Valuing the Walking Experience

Valuing the Walking Experience


D Heuman, P Buchanan, M Wedderburn, Colin Buchanan & Partners, UK; R Sheldon, Accent Marketing and Research, UK


This paper examines how pedestrians value the walking environment. It reports on stated preference research into walkway improvements and examines how benefits to users vary by journey purpose, local environment and by familiarity with the walkway.


The economic appraisal of walking schemes is still in its infancy, but the science of quantifying how pedestrians value the walking environment is developing quickly. The authors previously carried out an economic evaluation of improvements to London's Strategic Walks that included quantitative measures of some of the health, safety, environment and quality benefits that accrue to pedestrians. This paper focuses on the evaluation of quality benefits, which represent some of the most important reasons for funding and justifying improvements to the walking environment.

The Strategic Walk Network comprises six core paths, totalling 533km and crossing all 33 London boroughs. The routes are the London Loop, Capital Ring, Thames Path, Jubilee Walkway, South East London Green Chain and the Lea Valley Walk. The paths range from rural trails around the edge of London to teeming city streets that feature some of the capital?s most popular attractions. The Strategic Walks have been designed and managed as flagship projects with the intention of addressing traditional deterrents to walking and demonstrating best practice in footway management.

The managers of the Strategic Walk Network commissioned Colin Buchanan and Accent MR to improve the accuracy of assessing the value of walks through stated preference surveys. On London's Jubilee Walkway, Thames Path and Capital Ring, 700 surveys have been carried out to determine how improvements to the pedestrian environment are valued.

The purpose of applying economics to the measurement of pedestrian benefits is to focus the attention of officials, designers and policymakers on the quantum of benefits that accrue to users and where those benefits are generated. Benefits may vary not only by improvement, but by user type, pedestrian environment and by familiarity with the walkway. As a result, we distinguish between ?striders?, that is, users who walk with a clear destination and prefer time savings to quality improvements, and ?strollers?, that is, users who may not have a clear destination and who prefer quality improvements to time savings. We also distinguish between built-up environments in predominantly urban locations, and green/open environments that are away from high streets. Thus, provision such as benches that may be valued highly in green areas may have a negative value in urban areas where they can prove to be clutter. The surveys are being carried out among users and non-users, and for work trips, shopping trips, personal business trips and pleasure walks, both in built and open environments. This approach will determine therefore how benefits vary by journey purpose, location and built environment.

This paper describes the findings from these surveys. It shows how interviewees value benches, signs, information panels, crowding, evenness of pavements, kerbs, street lighting, street clutter and cleanliness along walkways.

This research has potentially important implications for the funding of walking improvements. In the UK, where formal appraisal is expected of transport schemes, the funding of walking improvements may be held back by the inability to measure quality improvements in a quantitative fashion. Whereas hard modes have included quality benefits in transport appraisals for some time, walk schemes have not been able to do this despite the fact that their advantage is in the provision of quality. As walking schemes in the UK move towards systems of quantitative assessment, these findings provide important evidence on the benefit of walking schemes and they may help to redress the balance between ?soft? and ?hard? modes and increase the funding available for walking schemes


Association for European Transport