Walking is an indication of a city’s liveability, vibrancy, and health. In Victoria, walking accounts for 1 in 6 weekday trips, and is the most popular recreational activity with over a million participants a year. Despite its potential to deliver significant benefits to cities and people, walking is typically overlooked in planning and investment decisions – most likely due to its routine nature.
Walking can yield health benefits, which is critical to unlocking economic savings for an ageing population such as Australia. It can also provide benefits for community, equality, the environment, and economic development, with relatively low cost infrastructure as compared to other modes of transport.
We have identified key issues with the current investment process that present barriers to appropriate levels of investment in walking, including;
- Exclusion of walking benefits in infrastructure business cases
- Insufficient delineation of current walking spend by governments
- A lack of overarching responsibility for walking investment
- A lack of focus on walking for transport and recreational trips, as well as using walking to access services
To this end, we recommend the Victorian government;
- Increase investment in walking projects through a dedicated funding stream
- Adopt a target for increasing the proportion of short trips undertaken by walking
- Establish a clear governance group responsible for the strategy, planning, investment, and reporting of walking projects
- Develop a clear strategy and associated action plan for walking in Victoria
- Develop a clear, consolidated set of monetisation factors for the economic justification of walking projects
- Clearly delineate investment in walking in both budgeting and annual reporting
- Collect better data on walking both as a transport mode and as a crucial element of multi-model trips