Walking rates continue to pick up pace post-pandemic
People in England are walking more often, according to new data (released 30 August 2023).
The National Travel Survey 2022 data shows that people are walking more often with increases in walking trips, stages and miles travelled compared to 2021, with average trips and miles above pre-pandemic levels. Walking is currently the only mode of transport where average trips per person are above 2019 levels.
The Government published its second Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) in July 2022, aimed at making walking and cycling the natural choices for short journeys. In it, there is a target of 365 walking ‘stages’ per person per year. The new statistics show that in 2022, people in England walked 318 stages, up from 279 in 2021.
Stephen Edwards, Chief Executive of Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking said:
“There was a lot of good work during the lockdowns to improve spaces for people walking and wheeling. If the targets are to be met, we need to continue to prioritise these healthier transport modes by reducing congestion on residential streets and investing in infrastructure to support walking, such as better pavements, crossings and benches.”
The Government also has a target of 55 per cent of primary school aged children walking to school by 2025. The new data shows that the number of 5–10-year-olds who normally walk to school has remained the same as 2021 at 49 per cent.
Living Streets has been working to help the Government reach this target by running its Walk to School Outreach programme, which supported 1,111 schools in 2022/23. The Active Travel England funded project sees schools participate in WOW – the walk to school challenge and involves the charity working with schools and local authorities to improve school streets so they are safer and more accessible.
During the last financial year, the Walk to School Outreach project created 14.3 million new walking trips and removed 2.5 million car kilometres from England’s roads.
Stephen Edwards continues:
“The success of our walk to school programme shows the value of investing in walking and in making streets more welcoming with slower speeds, better crossings and car-free zones.
“As pupils in England head back to school, we need a commitment to long-term investment and continued support for walk to school initiatives, so that more children can enjoy the benefits of being active on the journey to school.”
 A ‘walking stage’ is walking for all or part of a journey. For example, walking to catch a bus would count as one walking stage and one public transport stage.
 National Travel Survey. Table 0615: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-travel-survey-statistics