Walking is the most natural form of transport and physical activity.
Almost every public transport user and car driver is a pedestrian at some stage during each journey.
Walking is a reliable transport option, without delays associated with road traffic and the corresponding stress. The average person can walk at 4-5km/hour. Generally, people tend to overestimate the time it will take to walk somewhere, and underestimate the time they will need to drive somewhere. For example you can walk from Stephens Green to Parnell Square in 20mins, or Patrick St to University College Cork in just over half an hour. The National Journey Planner will give you walking routes and distances.
Think…Walk – even once a week.
- 38% of Irish people travel less than 5km to work.
- 55% of children are driven less than 1km to primary school.
- Nationally 11% of commuters walk to work.
All adults need to accumulate moderate intensity aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes on five days a week. This can be built up during the day, for example by 2 x 15 minutes’ walk part of the way to work or public transport stop, or a 35 minute walk home from work. Walking can easily fit into your daily lifestyle at work, at home and at leisure. Perhaps walk part of your regular journey one or two days a week, walk to meetings, or get off the bus stop a few stops earlier.
The main benefits of walking are:
- Reducing risk of stroke and heart disease - Over 20% of coronary heart disease and 10% of stroke is due to physical inactivity.
- Exercising the Heart and lungs
- Strengthening and toning muscles
- Relieving stress
Try using a Pedometer to keep a record of how much you walkThe Irish Heart Foundation has a Step Challenge Card to record activity. You can set personal goals and watch your activity levels increase each week. Read more about the Slí challenge here. Did you know? In 2011, 3,300 people in 40 companies participated in the National Transport Authority Smarter Travel Workplaces Partner Pedometer Challenge. The numbers Walking to Work more than doubled over the course of the four-week challenge.
Walking is the most environmentally friendly form of transport - with no emissions. Walking can support local shops and businesses, as pedestrians have the freedom to ‘pop-in’ to pick up goods. Walking is the second most popular way to visit Dublin City Centre, after taking the bus. It's more popular than the car, train or LUAS. London's annual West End Very Important Pedestrian (VIP) Day in December, when Oxford and Regent Streets close to traffic, increases footfall by up to 40 per cent. Some stores achieve their best sales figures of the year.
The National Transport Authority fund the Smarter Travel Workplaces Programme to support sustainable commuting and travel choices in large workplaces. At the end of 2011, 102 workplaces in both the public and private sectors were engaged in the scheme, involving over 240,000 individuals, including college students. Partners in the programme include Accenture, Cork City Council, Deloitte, Dublin Institute of Technology, ESB, Eirgrid, Letterkenny General Hospital, Microsoft, National University of Ireland Galway, Oracle, Pfizer, Savills, Trinity College Dublin and Vodafone. The National Transport Authority have developed a Step-by-Step Guide to Travel Plans for Employers For resources or more information on the programme, please see www.smartertravelworkplaces.ie
MapsPut local area maps on display in receptions and stairwells. If there are local walking routes, mark these on the maps.
Slí na Sláinte Walking RoutesThe Irish Heart Foundation can map Slí na Sláinte walking routes around large buildings or campuses. Contact 01 668 5001.
UmbrellasKeep umbrellas branded with your organisation’s logo in reception to be signed out by employees on rainy days.
Lunchtime Walking RoutesHuman Resources (or a walking club in your organisation) could organise coffee mornings for interested walkers and suggest some lunchtime walking routes for them. This helps to create a culture of walking within the organisation, which will feed into modal choice on the commute. You can complement this by advertising other walking events outside work, e.g. orienteering or hiking groups in the local area.
Branding WalkingGive walkers corporate-branded shoe bags to store their walking shoes once they get to work. This is particularly relevant for organisations with a formal dress code.
Site AuditHow good is the environment on your site for people walking through it? Ideally it should be attractive, with good natural surveillance and well-maintained footpaths and lighting. Review your site, looking at ‘desire lines’ (e.g. do marked paths follow the routes that people want to take, or do they have to go through bushes or grass to get to their destination), footpaths, lighting, surveillance, cleanliness, ease of access, overgrown plants, etc. Liaise with your Local Authority about issues outside your organisation’s site.
Employee Wellbeing ProgrammesLink in with employee wellbeing programmes to promote one-day-a-week walking promotions.
The National Transport Authority fund the Green-Schools Travel Module of the national Green-Schools Flag programme. As of September 2011, over 844 schools and 170,000 pupils have been through the Green-Schools travel programme implementing initiatives to promote walking and cycling. Results from schools that undertook the programme between 2009 and 2011 indicate an 18% reduction in private car use to more sustainable modes of travel to school. This represents over 9,000 people per day making the switch from the car to walking and cycling. This toolkit was developed by the National Transport Authority and Green Schools Travel to help your school promote walking, cycling and other forms of sustainable travel.
Walk on Wednesdays (WoW days)St Conleths National School Kildare launch their Walk on Wednesday WOW day
Create an IncentiveSome people may need a little encouragement to start walking. This could be a simple prize for the top walker of the month or you could have a healthy breakfast morning for all those who choose walking as their mode of choice on a certain day. Golden Boot Awards! The Golden Boot is a great way to encourage classes to compete against each other to be the ‘Greenest’ travellers! Classes count how many people walked, cycled, took public transport, car-shared or Park ‘n’ Stride to school on a weekly basis. At the end of every week (or term) the class with the most ‘Green Travellers’ wins the Golden Boot.
Develop an InitiativeYou could start a walking initiative such as Walk on Wednesday (WOW). Simply pick a day you would like people to walk and then promote it. This could be linked to raising awareness and creating an incentive e.g. a poster competition to promote WOW and then provide a healthy breakfast the last Wednesday of every month. Over 32,850 pupils in 250 schools took part in Green-Schools National WOW Day in 2011.
Walking BusWhere children are deemed too young to walk independently consider setting up a ’Walking Bus’. A walking bus is run by a group of adult volunteers who walk a route to a school, stopping off at certain points to collect and drop off children. Walking buses can be time-consuming to set up as they require buy in from a lot of people. But once up and running, they can work brilliantly and really set children up for independent walking.
Themed WalksConsider running a themed walk, such as a ghost tour, sports tour, local history tour around your local area or go for a nature walk and learn about the local biodiversity. This could be tied into Geography, Science or History classes. Or have a Fancy Dress Walk – around certain times of the year organise fancy dress walks to school, for example at Halloween, Christmas or St. Patricks Day. You could also have a ‘no uniform walking day’ to raise money for your school or a local charity.
International Walking EventsDid you know that Green-Schools National Walk to School Week takes place in May and International Walk to School month occurs in October?
NetworkSpeak to your Local Authority and Community Guard about managing parking and traffic outside your school or to improve pedestrian infrastructure in your area.
Carry out a ‘Walkability Audit’ of your schoolThis involves students and teachers walking around their school or local area with clipboards, paper and a camera to ‘log’ areas for improvement. The results of your Walkability Audit can be sent to your Local Authority with a request to undertake some of the improvements marked. For example – repainting double yellow lines outside the school, putting up signs at school gates asking parents to park away from the gates, cutting back bushes on the way into the school, moving bins blocking paths etc. Children now walk up roads where once they were driven up them. Children have become aware of the healthy aspects of walking and cycling” – Principal, Divine Word National School, Rathfarnham, Dublin
Safety tips from Green Schools Travel
- Always be bright and be seen
- Always stay on pavements or footpaths
- Always use pedestrian crossings or lollipop wardens
- Always be responsible near roads
- Always remember the Safe Cross Code
- Always take care when crossing cycle lanes