Resources & Data

 

Walking Facts

Did You Know?

Since everyone walks, it’s easy to take for granted. And that’s exactly what the transportation planning profession has done — with rather unfortunate results. Consider:

Walking Prevalence

  • Walking is by far the most popular form of physical activity in the United States.
  • Although 41% of all trips made in the United States are one mile or less, fewer than 10% of all trips are made by walking and biking. [1]
  • Among students living within 1 mile of school, the percentage of walkers fell from 90% to 31% between 1969 and 2001. [2]
  • According to the CDC, only 13% of children walk to school today compared with 66% in 1970.[3]
  • Parents driving children to school comprise 20-30% of morning traffic congestion in urban areas.
  • Children on a walking school bus walk at about 2 miles per hour, which is half the rate of a typical young adult. The average person takes 2,000 steps per mile.
  • 10,000 steps per day – about 5 miles – is a great way to walk your way to fitness.[4]

Walking and Health

  • According to the CDC , 33% of U.S. adults are classified as obese (BMI≥30), compared to 15% in the 1970s.
  • Brisk walking (≥3.5 mph) has been shown to reduce body fat, lower blood pressure, increase high-density lipoprotein, and even reduce risks of bone fracture.[5]
  • Brisk walking has also been associated with lower mortality rates from cardiovascular disease and cancer.⁴
  • 21% to 34% of U.S. adults meet public health recommendations (5 times per week for at least 30 minutes) for physical activity by walking. [6]
  • In the last 40 years, childhood obesity has increased 5-fold for kids age 6-11.
  • Providing ideal conditions for walking is illegal in most suburban communities.
  • Injuries
  • Each year 6,000 pedestrians are killed and 90,000 are injured. One in five is a child.[7]
  • You are 36 times more likely to be killed walking than driving a car.
  • You are 300 times more likely to be killed walking than flying.
  • Less than 6% of Americans’ trips are on foot, yet 13% of all traffic deaths involve pedestrians.
  • For every pedestrian killed by a car, at least 14 more are injured.
  • Almost 60% of pedestrian deaths occur in places where no crosswalk is available.
  • Being hit and killed by a car is now the second leading cause of fatal injury and the fourth leading cause of hospitalized injury for California children aged 5-12.
  • Pedestrian fatalities have declined steadily over the last 20 years, mainly because US residents increasingly live in suburbs, where residents walk far less.

Costs

  • In a San Francisco study, average medical costs for treating pedestrian crashes during 2004-2008 was $47,303-$77,679 per patient for admitted patients and $3,798-$6,405 for non-admitted patients. The highest cost for a single patient was $1.9 million. The highest cost directly billed to an uninsured patient during this period was $505,952. [8]
  • According to 2004 data from AAA estimates and US Census surveys, ownership costs of one motor vehicle — $7,834 for a sedan (AAA, Your Driving Costs) — accounts for more than 18 percent of a typical household’s income.
  • Because of the health benefits, the cost of walking is actually negative. [9]
  • The cost of single traffic fatality is $3.36 million in Year 2000 dollars. [10]

What can you do?

  • Get in touch with your local walking advocacy organization to see how can you promote walkability in your community.
  • Become a walking advocate. Learn how to get started.

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1. Ham, S., et al., 2005, Trends in Walking for Transportation in the United States, 1995 and 2001, Preventing Chronic Disease

2. Environmental Protection Agency, 2003, Travel and environmental implications of school siting, EPA 231-R-03-004

3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

4. The Walking Site, 10,000 steps per day

5. Dunton, G., et al., 2006, Perceived Barriers to Walking for Physical Activity, Preventing Chronic Disease

6. Eyler AA, et al., 2003, The epidemiology of walking for physical activity in the United States.

7. Surface Transportation Policy Project, 2000, Mean Streets 2000

8. Dicker, R, et al., 2009, Pedestrian Injury

9. WalkingInfo.org, Economic Benefits

10. Parry, I.W.H. et al., 2007, Automobile externalities and policies, Resources for the Future