do it that often. But, if you’re walking to the bus stop
and back, your daily commute can get you that magical exercise,” he says.
Safety concerns can also be a barrier to walking. Several
factors according to the World Health Organization
can influence pedestrian risks, such as unsafe driver
and pedestrian behaviors and challenging physical
environments. In surveys of parents, the most commonly reported barrier for walking to school was the
distance to school, followed by traffic-related dangers,
according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Study, “Barriers to Children Walking to or
from School.” Fear of crime or perceptions of an unsafe
neighborhood may also be potential barriers to walking.
Policy Decisions and Advocacy
The lack of solutions to these problems has led to policy
decisions and advocacy groups forming to encourage
this type of physical activity through programs, infrastructure and more.
When it comes to walking, says Amy Schumann, an
environmental health planner with Public Health Seat-
tle and King County, “There are two approaches to
getting people to walk. One is programmatic, through
senior centers, walking school buses (where an adult is
designated the lead to walk kids to school) and motiva-
tional programs. These are all important and helpful.”
The other approach is through environmental change.
“The assumption is that we all want to walk more in
our community, but some communities have barriers
to making that possible. The stronger focus on the envi-
ronmental changes that benefit communities; the more
people get active in their daily activities.”
Feet First in Seattle is hoping to create walkable places
by removing barriers.
“The mission of Feet First is to make cities across Washington State more walkable places,” says Lisa Quinn,
executive director of Feet First. “We have an advisory
council that looks holistically at the areas, with the
departments of transportation and health, the coroner
The built environment can influence physical activity and
encourage people to walk, bike and enjoy their communities.
Courtesy of Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau
Photo by Jim Larrison