Let's get Scotland Walking - The National Walking Strategy

The National Walking Strategy outlines our vision of a Scotland where everyone benefits from walking.

6. Making Change Happen

Infrastructure alone will not be enough to transform people's habits and change their behaviour. That is why this strategy aims to marshal all the opportunities available to help change the way people make everyday journeys and walk more in their daily lives. Initiatives such as Smarter Choices Smarter Places (designed to increase active travel and public transport use and tackle transport emissions) have shown that public attitudes changed in the pilot areas over the course of the programme with upwards of 19% increases in walking in two of the seven towns in the study [36] . Measures are needed to tackle both the behavioural and wider determinant issues that influence walking, whether for travel or recreation. Walking for recreation is associated with access to facilities, aesthetics, parks and open spaces. On the other hand, walking for travel is associated with connected street and path networks, public transport, and higher residential densities.

An understanding of the barriers that influence people's decision or ability to walk is the first step for individuals, organisations, and communities to make the changes that will effectively reduce or eliminate such barriers. Current evidence indicates that the key barriers to people walking are as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Perceived barriers to walking more often


From: Public attitudes to walking in Scotland: Ipsos MORI Summary Report, 2014;
based on all respondents (n=1001)

Weather in Scotland can, at times, discourage people from walking, as is shown opposite. We are not alone in this and there are solutions that can help address this perceived barrier, for example more sheltered walks by using hedging, walls, etc., better clearing of pavements/paths in icy and snowy weather, advice on appropriate clothing and footwear - even providing umbrellas in workplaces.

Evidence also shows that other factors not cited in this survey can act as barriers to people walking and these include:

Physical Barriers which can be influenced include, availability and accessibility of paths, poor quality walking surfaces, nonexistent or inappropriate crossing arrangements that give little time to cross, high speed traffic, gates and stiles etc.

Practical Barriers refer to the physical, medical and economic obstacles to physical activity that individuals encounter in their daily lives. Issues such as cost, safety, access, time pressures and health issues are significant for each social group (although different groups are impacted in different ways). Physical distance to destinations is a barrier in many places. It is also known that people tend to overestimate walking time and distance, often being misled by inaccurate perceptions of local walking geography and inadequate information.

Knowledge Barriers such as lack of information, signage, websites etc. appear to be linked with socio-cultural factors, self-perceptions and the perceptions of others.

Socio-cultural Barriers refer to specific social and cultural practices, beliefs and traditions within a community or society and how these impact on self-perceptions and the perceptions of others.

People are central to achieving our vision. For example, staff support in local authority areas is essential for the delivery of an integrated walking network. Most access authorities (32 local authorities and two national parks) have an Access Officer(s) who work to provide, manage and maintain routes within their areas by working with land managers. Where there are Ranger Services they work closely with them. There are other staff in local authorities who will have a critical role and responsibility over infrastructure or policy delivery that will impact on walking e.g. parks and greenspace teams, transport and urban planners, cycling officers, safe routes to school planners. The voluntary sector, community planning, health and education professionals, community organisations and Local Access Fora are amongst those who can help achieve our aspirations.

Next Steps

To make change happen, to realise the benefits of walking, create good places for better health and to overcome barriers, the NWS working group members have made key recommendations that will be required to significantly increase the number of people walking on a daily basis. These are set out in Annex B.

To translate the vision in this strategy into action Scottish Government have tasked Paths for All, the national partnership organisation that promotes walking, with establishing a new delivery forum for the NWS. The forum should include representation from relevant stakeholders across the public, private and third sectors. This forum will work in partnership with the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland ( CAPS) Delivery Forum. It should also draw on the work of the National Access Forum.

A first task of this forum will be to consider how best to respond to the working group's recommendations, and to develop a detailed action plan which sets out clear priorities, and timescales for delivery for Scottish Ministers and CoSLA to approve early in 2015. Thereafter its role will be to keep the action plan under review and consider further action that may be required to deliver the vision and strategic aims of the strategy.


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