Walking is a fundamental mode of travel and an essential part of any successful transport system. To have a society that embraces a transportation system that addresses the issues of Climate Change, emphasis on low-emission travel modes is of key importance. As such, collecting information about walking is a necessity, and provides crucial input for planning interventions and investment decisions. Travel surveys play a critical role in measuring the amount of walking done.
Currently, however, there are vast differences in the data collection methods used, which make comparisons difficult. Travel surveys usually focus on the national level but good information is equally required at the regional and local level. It is essential, therefore, to develop reliable, valid and yet easy to use travel surveys for cities and urban areas which include walking in a consistent and appropriate manner.
The International Walking Data Standard is the output of nearly 10 years of research and discussion. The concept was launched at the WALK21 conference in Melbourne 2006 F\following the adoption of the International Charter for Walking. It will help to ensure that walking has a higher profile in transport and urban planning throughout the world, and is considered as part of the transport network as a mode of transport. It is often said that what is not measured is not seen as important, and what is not seen as important is not properly measured. International comparisons are important to establish “best” or “better” practice and to inspire and encourage better conditions for people wanting or having to walk. Specifically, the objective is to establish comprehensive data on trips, such that walking is recorded with the same degree of accuracy and diligence as other modes.
Walking presents particular challenges for accurate measurement. This is apparent from the vast differences in data collection methods used, which make it very difficult to compare the resulting data. It is essential, therefore, to develop reliable, valid and yet easy to use travel surveys for cities and urban areas which include walking in a consistent and appropriate manner.
Experts from a wide range of countries developed the standard based on the experience that data on walking was either nonexistent or not comparable, that methodologies and tools were missing and above all, that this produced misleading information about walking. The work towards internationally standardized monitoring methods of walking and public space was initiated within the Walk21 international conference series on Walking and Liveable Communities and the European COST Action 358 on Pedestrians’ Quality Needs. Taken from there, input by international experts and practitioners the world over was included.
The International Walking Data Standard presents definitions and methods for agencies to adopt in order to have more comparable, compatible, and consistent travel data. This will allow for the bias that is working against low-emission travel modes to be reduced and increased levels of planning and design to be accomplished.
National, regional and local agencies are, therefore, invited to support, adopt and implement the International Walking Data Standard. The Standard can be downloaded from here:
Two distinct target audiences are addressed: The first audience is experts on travel surveys and statistics and their relevant agencies who seek to better understand how the methods and measurements can include walking more appropriately. The second target audience is those in city and traffic planning who want to know how reliable travel survey data is and what the figures mean.
This document demonstrates the need for an internationally recognized standard for the collection of data on walking, as a way of promoting and supporting policies and actions to improve the role of sustainable modes of travel. It also proposes a detailed set of requirements for walking data that are consistent and comparable.
As well as being a fundamental mode of travel and an essential part of any successful transport system, walking is increasingly acknowledged as providing a wide range of benefits in terms of health, social inclusion, environmental improvements, livability of cities and economic opportunities. Thus, collecting information about walking is a necessity, and provides crucial input for planning interventions and investment decisions, e.g. by quantifying problems, measuring project outcomes, tracking performance or benchmarking. Travel surveys play a critical role in measuring the amount of walking done.
For the Walking Data Standard, three approaches are put forward for making changes to, and harmonizing existing and future travel surveys and allowing for the scaling of this adoption:
Three levels, or layers, are put forward to enable the widest degree of comparability between different countries, regions and cities. In reviewing their survey methods and content in response to the Walking Data Standard, data agencies can select the “highest” level that is feasible in their circumstances.
To allow for the scaling up of this initiative, adoption of the standard by agencies that are associated with travel surveys needs to occur. Additionally, the information that is collected in this manner needs to be easily shared with other jurisdictions to allow for comparison and further refinement of the methodology.
Global, Adaptation, Passenger, Policy, Awareness
Daniel Sauter, Walk21: Measuring Walking co-ordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
“Walking is hugely important. Therefore we need to have high quality data to inform meaningful planning and policy decisions. The International Walking Data Standard is really helpful to ensure walking has a high profile in transport and urban planning and is of great use to anyone with an interest in mobility issues.”
-David Wilby, Statistical Analyst and Transport for London, UK