Is walking the primary form of urban mobility?

  • Jim  Walker

    Jim Walker

    Founder Walk21 Foundation

20 February 2024

Is walking the primary form of urban mobility? Tomorrow’s urban mobility will be much like todays in that walking will continue to be an essential part of trips. Within cities, most citizens walk at some point during the day, whether that’s to access key services or connect to their closest public transport stop. Approximately 80% of today’s trips can be made using a combination of walking, cycling and public transit options and in many cities that is already the reality or their ambition. In Hong Kong, for example, 90% of trips are made on foot or by public transport. Cities must continue to enable walking to be a safer, more accessible, and comfortable transport choice. Walking provides social, environmental, and economic benefits to our cities. Walking grounds us, connects us, and lets us live our lives better. If we look at different modes of transport in a pyramid, walking is always at the very top in successful cities: the first priority for transport decision making and investment choices. The mobility paradigm of the future must value “time quality” over “time saving”. This means delivering satisfying walking experiences irrespective of age, ability, gender or income. Put simply, the smiles (on the faces of the people we encounter on our streets and in public spaces) are a more important measure than the miles (walked). Such an increase in the quality of walking experiences will keep people on their feet and encourage more people to walk more often and further. This is the foundation of the sustainable mobility system. People feel safer when there are others sharing the same space, and economic value is created for neighborhood businesses, thanks to an increase in footfall. With the right values underpinning our investments, the space occupied by private vehicles can be reallocated more equitably, journeys made more reliably, and the physical and mental health of our communities stands to benefit urban communities around the world.