General Pedestrian Statistics

How many people walk?

In the 2005 Traveler Opinion and Perception Survey (TOP), conducted by the Federal Highway Administration, about 107.4 million Americans use walking as a regular mode of travel. This translates to approximately 51 percent of the traveling public. On average, these 107.4 million people used walking for transportation (as opposed to for recreation) three days per week.

According to the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) completed in 2009, there are an estimated 42 billion walking trips nationwide every year. To put this statistic in perspective, Americans take a total of about 388 billion annual trips. Walking trips, thus, make up roughly 10.9 percent of all trips.

The NHTS also found that walking trips were more likely to occur for social and recreation trip purposes (25 percent) and less likely for work purposes (5.8 percent). Walking trips also accounted for 4.9 percent of all trips to school and church and 11.4 percent of shopping and service trips.

The 2005 Census American Community Survey estimated 3,291,401 people used walking as their primary mode of travel for their journey to work each week. (2005

Why are people walking?

In 2002, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) conducted the National Survey of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Attitudes and Behaviors. This report found that most people walked for exercise and health reasons (27.0 percent). In addition, personal errands (17.3 percent) and recreational purposes (15.3 percent) make up significant shares of walking trips.

Reasons for Walking Percent
Exercise/Health 27.0
Personal Errands 17.3
Recreation 15.3
To go home 10.2
Visit a friend or relative 8.8
School/work 5.1
Walk the dog 4.0
Other 12.3

Walking by age and gender

Because age helps dictate transportation mode choice, walking rates are drastically higher for younger age groups than older ones. The 5–15 year old age group has almost twice the percentage of walking trips as the 40–64 year old age group with 15.2 percent and 7.8 percent respectively (Pucher and Renne, 2003).

Walking Rates by Age Percent
5 to 15 15.2
16 to 24 9.3
25 to 39 9.2
40 to 64 7.8
65 and over 8.9
(Pucher and Renne, 2003)

Researchers found a similar split amongst the percentage of males and females walking: 9.9 percent of all trips conducted by females were walking trips, while 9.3 percent of all trips by men involved walking as the primary mode of transport (Pucher and Renne, 2003).

Walking by region

Walking rates predictably vary greatly by region of the country. For instance, the highest rates of walking occur in the Mid-Atlantic States where 15.8 percent of trips are made by pedestrians. The East South Central States have the lowest walking rates in the country with only 6.0 percent of all trips made by foot (Pucher and Renne, 2003).

Walking Rates by Region Percent
Mid Atlantic 15.8
Pacific 10.6
New England 10.3
West South Central 6.3
East South Central 6.0

What facilities do pedestrians use?

Walking facilities play a large role in pedestrian mobility and safety. According to the National Survey of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Attitudes and Behaviors, the majority of walking trips occur either on sidewalks or on paved roads without shoulders (45.1 percent and 24.8 percent, respectively).

Facilities Used by Pedestrians Percent
Sidewalks 45.1
Paved roads (no shoulder) 24.8
Shoulders of paved roads 8.4
Unpaved roads 8.0
Paths/Trails 5.8
Grass or fields 4.9
Other 3.0

How far do people generally walk?

According to the 2002 National Survey of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Attitudes and Behaviors, about 27 percent of walking trips are less than 0.25 miles in length and about 15 percent are more than two miles (see Figure 1). The average walking trip is 1.2 miles.

Figure 1

Graph showing Percent of Trip Lengths on Most Recent Day Walked

Source: National Survey of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Attitudes and Behaviors — Highlights Report, 2002

Citation: Pucher, J. and Renne, J. (2003). Socioeconomics of Urban Travel: Evidence from the 2001 NHTS. Transportation Quarterly, Vol. 57, No. 3, Summer 2003 (49–77).