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We are all guilty of driving two minutes down the street, not being able to find a park and thinking “I should have just walked”. We now have one less excuse because a recent study lead by leading researchers at Pennsylvania State University disclose walking or riding doesn’t take as long as you think to get to where you want to go. Shattering.
Melissa Bopp, Associate Professor of Kinesiology, Penn State, said “These results help the researchers better understand the barriers keeping people from walking or biking, sometimes referred to as ‘active travel’, instead of using a car.”
“People in general aren’t very good at estimating how long it’s going to take to get somewhere,” Bopp said. “That’s problematic when you’re trying to get someone to walk or bike somewhere. Travelling by foot or bike has a lot of benefits, but not a lot of people do it. They may think they can’t do it because it’s too far and it’ll take too long, when it turns out it’s really not.”
Most people still commute by car for short trips despite the better health implications and environmental advantages. Bopp said that the key to getting people to travel more actively was to learn more about why people don’t walk or bike more often in the first place.
“We wanted to look at people’s knowledge, attitudes and beliefs, because those are things we can try to change. I can’t change your age, but I can change your knowledge,” Bopp said. “For example, people who aren’t familiar with walk or bike travel tend to assume you use the same route you would drive, which might be along a busy road. Meanwhile, in actuality, there’s a perfectly lovely bike path that only crosses that busy road once. That’s a knowledge gap we can fix.”
Self-confidence and self-efficacy played large roles in whether the study of over 500 teachers and students felt comfortable when travelling by active transport modes. The truth is, no matter how wide the pedestrian paths are or how many bike paths are created, if people don’t feel like they are safe walking at night or adequately protected from cars, the infrastructure won’t be used to its capacity.
SALT is located in the CBD and only a short walk to Flinders Station. We accept it is easier for our staff to use public transport than many others, though we recommend people attempt “active transport” before having an opinion, as it will be a unique experience for everyone. Whether it’s walking, cycling to the station, or riding the length of the journey, you set your own boundaries. Businesses can easily encourage staff to cycle to work by installing a bike storage rack.