Walking is the perfect form of exercise: it is free, it needs no special equipment, and it can be fitted into a journey to and from work.
Making it safer and more pleasant to walk
Think about the environment that anyone walking to your site has to navigate. Is it clean? Is it well lit? Does it feel safe, both from traffic and from stranger danger? Is it convenient? You may need to think about making some improvements to your site:
- Providing lighting
- Installing a pedestrian entrance, with key or code activated barriers if this would enhance security issues
- Creating pedestrian short cuts and traffic free routes
- Landscaping your grounds to make the area more attractive for pedestrians
Providing better facilities for pedestrians
Think about how pedestrians may feel when they arrive at work. What would they need in order to settle into their working day and feel comfortable? You may like to think about providing any of the following:
- Shower facilities
- Changing facilities
- A drying area for clothes
- A storage area for work clothes and shoes
- A hot drinks machine
- An umbrella pool
Many of the above examples will also be useful for cyclists.
Creating a better perception of walking
Many people may be put off from walking to work, because they think it is too far or it will be too much effort. Generally, people tend to overestimate the time it will take to walk somewhere, and underestimate the time they will need to drive somewhere. You can help to alleviate this problem by:
- Marketing walking as a positive experience
- Providing pedometers to encourage your staff to increase their daily steps (and telling them that research shows that walking 10,000 steps per day will significantly improve their health)
- Organising lunchtime walks or fundraising events
Giving more information
Very often, people will simply not know what their options are. They may not know the safest walking routes into your site. Quick wins to solve this problem include:
- Providing maps showing walking and cycling routes into your site. This can be displayed on your website, on staff notice boards, in the canteen, and disseminated via email and staff bulletins, or put into employees’ pay packets
- Designate one or two members of staff to be “walking buddies”, who are willing to give information to staff who would like to find out more information and the best routes for walking
- Highlight the benefits of walking. Let people know how many calories they could be burning by producing ‘calorie maps’. Let them know how far the average person can walk in a given amount of time
Providing incentives for walking
People who walk are often more productive in work time than people who drive. Could you reward them for this? Could pedestrians be given 10 minutes extra lunchtime or breaks, or leave 10 minutes early? Could you give them cash back? Many businesses enter staff who travel sustainably into a prize draw, or offer walkers’ breakfast events.
National Walk to Work Week
National Walk to Work Week, supported by Living Streets is an annual event which takes place in May. By logging miles, minutes and steps walked on the Living Streets website, people are able to see their totals as muffins burnt off and distance travelled round the equator. You can also run your own version of Walk to Work Week, at any time of the year, and promote it in any way you wish.
Many people respond well to a bit of competition. You might like to set up a workplace group on the Living Streets website, where you can invite your staff to join. Through the site, your staff can complete challenges and log their miles walked, and compare what they have done with what others have done. You could also set up your own version of this scheme, and publish challenges in your staff bulletin or on your website.