Travel survey finds 79% feel unsafe when out for walk
Just over one-third (34%) of people in Northern Ireland walk for 20 minutes or more every day, a new survey has found.
The Travel Survey for Northern Ireland (TSNI) on walking behaviours for 2015-2017, also found that 17% of people never walk anywhere for 20 minutes or longer.
Only 32% of those surveyed reported walking at least once a week.
Walking data from the TSNI focused on walking frequency, reasons why pedestrians feel unsafe when walking by the road and what would encourage pedestrians to walk more often. A total of 5,463 people responded to the survey commissioned by the Department for Infrastructure (DfI).
When asked what would encourage them to walk more often, the top response (37%) from pedestrians was 'better weather' followed by the time of the year, with 17% saying they would get out more in summer.
However, the next five responses all related to footpaths with 16% saying better lighting was needed along roads and streets at night and 15% citing that more pleasant pavements or greenways were needed.
A further 11% of people surveyed said they would be more active if there were more footpaths or if existing ones were better maintained.
And 10% said they would like to see footpaths kept clear and free of parked cars.
Those surveyed who said they walked at least once a year were then asked which situations made them feel unsafe when walking by the road.
Approximately 17% said they always felt safe when walking by the road, while 4% said they do not walk by the road - meaning that 79% of people gave at least one reason for feeling unsafe while walking.
The most common reason cited for feeling unsafe was that there was no footpath, with 35% of respondents giving this answer.
Over a quarter of those surveyed (29%) said that the reason they felt unsafe was heavy traffic, followed by motorists driving without consideration for pedestrians (27%), traffic travelling above the speed limit (25%) and poorly-lit footpaths (21%).
The survey was commissioned by DfI in conjunction with the findings around the numbers of pedestrians killed or seriously injured on Northern Ireland's roads over a five-year period.
Yesterday a spokesperson for the DfI said: "As well as reducing pedestrians killed or seriously injured casualty numbers, if the DfI is to increase numbers of people who choose to walk, it will need to understand current walking habits, including what would encourage respondents to walk more often and, importantly, the reasons why pedestrians feel unsafe while walking by the road.
"The report provides departmental officials with evidence to allow them to consider the best ways to try to reduce casualty numbers."