Walking is the oldest and most natural form of physical activity that can be done anywhere, at any time. Fancy equipment is not necessary, injuries are rare, and walking can be sociable and fun! The following page offers some tools, tips, and advice to help people to get started.
The Universal Design Walkability Audit Tool was developed as a collaboration between the National Transport Authority, Age Friendly Ireland, Green-Schools, and the National Disability Authority’s Centre for Excellence in Universal Design. This Audit can be used to capture the existing conditions of a specified walking route in relation to its walkability.
Tips and resources to help plan a walking route
Discovering new walking routes in your local area or perhaps to travel on your route to work or campus can be quite adventurous and help encourage you to walk more throughout your day.
When planning your walking we recommend carrying out some research beforehand to ensure you get the best walking route and experience possible. This will go a long way to ensure walking can be a sustainable mode of transport and enjoyable form of exercise in your daily routine.
We recommend looking into the following:
- Can you create an interesting walking route around your local area by finding linked pathways or passages between housing estates, local parks, and main roads?
- Does your local park or sports ground have a walking route or network of paths that can be incorporated into your walking route?
- Do you live near any roads or laneways that are quiet from traffic and are safe to walk on?
- Ask people from your local community about their walking routes and perhaps they can share their experience and provide some great local tips.
- For help in choosing the shortest route from A to B covering most built-up areas, you can use the TFI Journey Planner brought to you by Transport for Ireland.
Slí na Sláinte Walking Routes: There are over 250 Slí na Sláinte walking routes around the country, all waymarked and great for getting out for a sociable walk and talk with family and friends. For more information visit Irish Heart Foundation – Slí na Sláinte Routes.
National Looped Walks and Forest Trails: There are over 175 National Looped Walks developed throughout Ireland, ranging from short strolls to longer walks. There are also over 250 forest walks developed in forest sites around the country. For more details visit getirelandwalking.ie, coillte.ie and irishtrails.ie
For more tools and tips for getting started, looking after your health and keeping safe while walking, you can visit Irish Heart Foundation, Get Ireland Active, Get Ireland Walking and Road Safety Authority.
Walking for Transport
For information on pedestrian safety please refer to the Road Safety Authority.
Walking is not only a leisure activity, as it can also be an effective mode of transport, while still experiencing all the benefits of being active. Walking for transport is a great way to get some fresh air, increase your activity, reduce your carbon footprint, and it is probably quicker than you think! On average, walking one kilometre can take up to 12-15 minutes.
The following journeys can be the best for incorporating walking:
- Journeys to work or campus – if close enough to where you live. Unlike driving, walking times are very consistent and reliable;
- On business travel – traffic can be unpredictable at any time of the working day. If you are out and about on business or meetings relatively close to work it can make a lot of sense, and save time, to walk when you can;
- To a rail station or bus stop;
- To local shops – for taking “top up” shopping home or even on your lunch break, and you avoid any of the stresses of car parking;
- To parks or sports facilities – while it is great to get out for some fresh air and exercise, having to drive there can defeat the purpose. Try walking instead – maybe with friends or family, and
- Visiting friends – instead of driving to the local park or coffee shop – try walking with your friends instead!
Public transport is also a great way to incorporate walking into your journey. The next time you are planning your journey, consider the following to include walking:
- The distance to the nearest public transport service;
- Getting off a stop or two earlier and walking the remaining distance;
- Walking from one transport service to the next when travelling longer distances;
- Visit Smarter Travel – Public Transport for more information.
In some cases, it is not possible to substitute the private car for an alternative mode of transport. If this is the case, consider the following on your next transport journey to include walking:
- Park the car at a public transport station or nearby. You can then incorporate more sustainable travel on your journey by using public transport, and then walking the remaining distance;
- Park the car 2-3 kilometres from your destination and walk the remaining distance and
- Organise a carpooling system with your colleagues and walk to the designated collection point.
Smarter Travel Step Challenges
The Marchathon and Walktober fun team-based Step Challenges run in March and October, respectively, and are open to staff and students of workplaces and third level campuses who are partners of the Smarter Travel Programme. Teams compete from across the country to place on our Leaderboards. For more information on Walking Challenges please visit www.stepchallenge.ie.