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policymakers and the public debate the different aspects of transportation
issues, the Surface Transportation Policy Project asked Belden Russonello
& Stewart to measure the public’s attitudes toward one aspect of this
debate – walking.
October 2002, Belden Russonello & Stewart conducted a national random
sample telephone survey of 800 adults, age 18 and older from October 23
through 30, 2002. The survey used a random digit dial (RDD) sample of
households across the U.S. The margin of sampling error for the entire survey
is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points at the 95% level of tolerance. The following report contains key charts of findings.
survey finds that Americans would like to walk more than they are currently,
but they are held back by poorly designed communities that encourage speeding
and dangerous intersections and whose design is inconvenient to walk to shops
and restaurants. More than half
of Americans say that their communities lack shops and restaurants within
walking distance and a third of the public sees changing to less
drive-necessary communities as the answer to traffic.
survey documents public support for better walking communities and specific
policies such as designing streets for slower traffic speeds; using more
federal dollars to make walking safer from traffic; and creating
walking-friendly routes to school for children.
Walking Survey uncovers five main points on the public’s attitudes toward
walking and the walkability of communities:
More than half (55%) say they would like to walk rather than
drive more throughout the day either
for exercise or to get to specific places.
Why are more
Americans not walking? Distance
to stores, restaurants, and schools is the main reason offered by Americans as
to why they more often opt to take their car instead of walk.
The type of
walking Americans would like to do more of is walking for exercise or fun,
followed by walking to a specific destination. Majorities associate walking
with exercise, relaxation and fun.
majorities of Americans support policies to ensure the safety of walkers and
to make their communities more walkable. The most popular policies focus on
reducing speeding – tougher enforcement of the speed limit and designing
streets with more sidewalks and safe crossings to reduce speeding.
also find majorities favor making it easier for children to walk to school,
improving public transportation, and increasing federal spending on pedestrian
times lengthen for many Americans and traffic becomes ever more a part of
daily life, Americans are looking for alternatives and that may be why 66%
choose alternatives to new roads when offered possible solutions to the
traffic dilemma: Improved public transportation (35%); developing communities
where people do not have to drive long distances to work or shop (31%), and
then new roads (25%).
Many Americans would like to walk more in their communities
than half of the American public (55%) says it would like to walk more
throughout the day either for exercise or to get to specific places. Four in
ten (41%) Americans would choose driving over walking for wherever they need
1: Americans Would Prefer to Walk More
Q38. Please tell
me which of the following statements describe you more: A) If it were
possible, I would like to walk more throughout the day either to get to
specific places or for exercise, or B) I prefer to drive my car wherever I
types of walking would Americans like to do more of?
in ten Americans (80%) would like to walk more for exercise, with over half
(54%) saying they would like to walk “a lot” more for exercise.
78% would walk more for fun (46% “a lot” more).
nearly two-thirds (63%) say they would like to walk more to stores and other
places to run errands (36% “a lot” more).
2: Walk More for Exercise, Fun
Q47-Q51. If you
had a chance, would you… Would that be a lot or a little?
Walking is associated with good health and “fun” but less as “a
way to get around”
of the public associate walking with good exercise (65% say this describes
walking “very well”), relaxation (56%), and fun (48%).
Walking is considered “fun” more often by women than men.
lesser degree, walking is viewed as a “good way to get around” (35%). The
public, however, does not associate walking with being inconvenient (16%) or
saying “very well”
tell me if each of the following words or phrases describes walking for you
personally very well, somewhat, not very well, or not at all?
the reasons walking may not be so closely related to getting around is a lack
of access to stores, restaurants and other areas within walking distance of
people’s homes. Over half of Americans (54%) say there are too few shops or
restaurants within walking distance of their home.
Distance and time are seen as main barriers to people walking more
main reasons Americans report not walking more are that “things are
too far to get to” (61% a reason for not walking more) and that they “do
not have enough time” (57%). Fear
of crime, a dislike of walking, or laziness, however, are not reasons that
Americans point to for why they do not lace up their walking shoes more often.
for Not Walking More
much of a factor is each of the following in why you do not walk more right
now: a major reason, somewhat of a reason, not much of a reason, or not a
reason at all:
Americans value having places to walk in their communities
thinking about deciding where to live, having sidewalks and places to take
walks for exercise or fun is important to nearly eight in ten Americans (79%),
and “very” important to four in ten (44%). Having
areas to walk in the neighborhood rates third on a list of seven items asked
in the survey, behind feeling safe from crime and the quality of the public
in Deciding Where to Live
where to live, please tell me how important each of the following would be
to you: very important, somewhat important, not very important, or not at
Americans broadly support policies to make walking safer and easier
broadly support policies to make walking safer and easier.
favor better enforcement of traffic laws, such as speed limits (57% strongly
eight in ten (84%) favor using part of the transportation budget to design
streets with sidewalks, safe crossing and other devices to reduce speeding in
residential areas and make it safer to walk, even if this means driving more
slowly (48% strongly).
(74%) favor using part of the state transportation budget to create more
sidewalks and stop signs in communities, to make it safer and easier for
children to walk to school, even if this means less money to build new
highways (41% strongly).
in ten (68%) favor increasing federal spending on making sure people can
safely walk and cross the street, even if this means less tax dollars go to
building roads (31% strongly).
in ten (59%) support their state using more of its transportation budget for
improvements in public transportation, even if this means less money to build
new highways (29% strongly).
to half of the public (47%) favors designing communities so that more stores,
schools, and other places are within walking distance of homes, even if this
means building homes closer together (19% strongly).
to Create More Walkable Communities
Please tell me
if you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose
each of the following proposals:
Q28. Better enforce traffic laws such as
Q27. Use part of the transportation budget
to design streets with sidewalks, safe crossing, and other devices to reduce
speeding in residential areas and make it safer to walk, even if this means
driving more slowly.
Q25. Use part of
the state transportation budget to create more sidewalks and stop signs in
communities, to make it safer and easier for children to walk to school, even
if this means less money to build new highways.
Q30. Increase federal spending on making
sure people can safely walk across the street, even if this means less tax
dollars go to building roads.
Q26. Have your state government use more
of its transportation budget for improvements in public transportation, such
as trains, buses and light rail, even if this means less money to build new
Q29. Design communities so that more
stores and other places are within walking distance of homes, even if this
means building homes closer together.
6. Improved public
transportation and community design top new roads as answers to traffic
half of the public (49%) reports that traffic where they live is a problem and
just over half (51%) say it is not a problem.
We hear that traffic is a problem more among those Americans living in
the South Atlantic and West than other regions.
given three options to solve long-term traffic problems, a plurality (35%)
chooses “to improve public transportation” and three in ten (31%) choose
“develop communities where people do not have to drive long distances to
work or shop.” Only a quarter (25%) select “to build new roads” as the
best long-term solution to reducing traffic.
Chart 7: Long-term Solution to
Q31. Which one
of the following proposals is the best long term solution to reducing
traffic in your state: build new roads, improve public transportation, such
as trains , buses, and light rail, or develop communities where people do
not have to drive long distances to work or shop?
7. Youth are not walking
in ten Americans (71%) say they walked or rode a bike to school when they were
a child. But, today most school-aged children (7 to 17 years old) are either
driven by a parent (53%) or a school bus (38%). Less than two in ten (17%) walk.
report the main reason their children do not walk or bike is because the
school is too far away (66%). Other
concerns take a backseat to distance – too much traffic, no safe route
(17%), fear of abduction (16%), crime in the neighborhood (6%), lack of
convenience (15%), and finally, children not wanting to walk (6%).