Why Walking Matters?

Walking is known to improve personal health and prevent chronic illnesses. But that’s not all! When people walk more often and communities becoming more walkable, our society become more socially just, economically vibrant, and environmentally friendly. That is why Feet First seeks to make places in Washington more walkable. 

Benefits of Walking

Promote Social Justice and Equity

Low-income families, persons with disabilities, minority and immigrant communities are more reliant on walking for daily essential trips. Yet the places these people live are often the most car-dependent and hostile to pedestrians [1]. Improving walkability in these areas would lower residents’ health risks, reduce injuries and deaths due to collisions, increase access to opportunities, and strengthen social bonds — all of which help improve the community’s upward mobility and well-being. Walkable places shouldn’t only exist in wealthy neighborhoods. All Washington should be walkable because access to safe streets and walkable places is a basic human right.

Improve Public Health and Safety

Making places more walkable will not only help improve physical and mental health but also reduce death by collisions. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that young people between 3-17 get at least 60 minutes every day and adults over 18 at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week to maintain health and decrease the risk for chronic health conditions [2]. Walking is the easiest and most affordable way to meet these minimum guidelines. Walking also improves mental health and can help in the treatment of anxiety and depression [3]. Road traffic crashes are a leading cause of death in the United States for people aged 1-54 [4]. Making our streets and neighborhoods more walkable will lower the risk of traffic crashes for everyone [5]. 

Create Economic Vibrancy

To individual residents, living in more walkable places means lower transportation costs and higher access to jobs and services. When streets are designed to be more walkable and human-scaled,  it can also encourage localized business activities and increase retail revenues, office, residential and retail rents, as well as for-sale residential values [6]. However, presently, many walkable places also have higher housing costs and have driven out existing mid to low-income residents. We want to make sure that people of all income levels can enjoy the economic opportunities of walkable communities. Thus, we support the work of nonprofits that promote anti-displacement, equitable transit access, basic needs to ensure that walkability is promoted with an equity lens.

Protect the Environment

Walking is a highly space- and energy-efficient mode of transportation. Transportation is responsible for one-third of all U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions [7]. On the contrary, Walking produces no greenhouse gas emissions. When all streets are made more accessible to pedestrians, we can convert short driving journeys to walking journeys. When more neighborhoods are built to be pedestrian-scaled, we can access jobs and services on foot. All of this helps decrease the demand for motor vehicles, which in turn reduces GHG emissions, air pollutants, and noise pollutions [8]. Cleaner air and quieter living environments are healthy for both humans and the environment, and slowing GHG emissions means slowing the speed of global warming.

Lower Government Spending and Social Cost

America’s roads are crowded and frequently in poor conditions. In 2010, road congestion resulted in total congestion costs of $115 billion in 439 U.S. urban areas [9]. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates there is a $4.5 trillion of deferred U.S. infrastructure maintenance, and the cost of filling the maintenance gap for surface transportation makes up almost 45% of the total. Transportation is costly not only to individual households but to the nation as well. Investing in walking infrastructure and developing walkable communities can save on government spending in the long run and lower the external cost to society.

[1] America Walks, Sam Schwartz Engineering. Social Equity Benefits of Walking. Available at
[2] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. 2nd Edition. 2018. Available at
[3] America Walks. Health Benefits of Walking. Available at:
[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Road Traffic Injuries and Deaths – A Global Problem. Available at
[6] America Walks. Economic Benefits of Walking. Available at
[7] America Walks. Environmental Benefits of Walking. Available at
[8] Pedestrian Council of Australia. Information Sheet on Environmental Benefits of Walking. Available at
[9] America Walks. Transportation Benefits of Walking. Available at
[10] American Society of Civil Engineers. 2017 Infrastructure Report Card. Available at

Thank you for your donation!

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Your donation will help us to:

put on neighborhood walks and provide walking resources

raise awareness throughout Washington about the benefits of walkable communities and rights of the pedestrians

host events and programs focused on improving walkability