Belgian pedestrians are far from satisfied with the walkability of their municipality. The average result is 10,4 out of 20 when asked to assign a score. The figures come from the first Belgian Pedestrian Barometer, published by Tous à Pied, Pedestrian Movement, and Walk this Sunday.Brussels.
The participants were invited to respond to various statements, with scores indicating “completely agree” or “completely disagree.” Based on this data, a total score out of 20 was calculated to express the walkability of the public space. The score out of 20 should, therefore, also be seen as a scale ranging from very dissatisfied (0), relatively neutral (10) to very satisfied (20).
13 500 respondents from three regions
More than 13/500 Belgian citizens from 544 municipalities participated in the large-scale survey, financed by the Federal Public Service Mobility. Most respondents (43%) came from Flanders, one-fifth (20%) from Brussels, and 37% from Wallonia.
The scores were essentially identical: Flemish people give walkability in their municipality an average score of 10,65 (out of 20), Brussels residents 10,7, and Walloons 10. The main obstacles for pedestrians are comfort, safety, and pedestrian policy.
However, Flemish Mobility Minister Lydia Peeters (Open Vld) is determined to do something about it. In response, she announced that active road users are now central to the new Road Safety Plan.“During this legislature, we will invest 1,4 billion euros in safe and comfortable cycling infrastructure. Many of these interventions also have a positive effect on pedestrians,” she says.
According to the minister, the assessment framework for safe pedestrian crossing facilities is now being finalized and the pedestrian facilities Vademecum will also be updated in 2024. There is also a pilot project underway (Citizens4Safety) that will be rolled out later, including in collaboration with the pedestrian movement.
11 million pedestrians
Belgium has about 11 million pedestrians. Yet, that’s almost the only figure we know. We all have the right to walk smoothly, safely, and comfortably. Still, generally, the survey participants are not satisfied with the walkability.
Pedestrians are especially critical of their walking comfort. They also would like sidewalks to become wider, safer, well-maintained, and free of obstacles. “If we want to promote walking, it is necessary to invest in accessibility of footways,” the survey concludes.
Other critical points are road safety and public space, which is not adapted to prams, young children on foot, older people, and people with limited mobility; lack of facilities for pedestrian comfort (toilets, benches, public drinking water taps…) and the nuisance of car traffic.
Some remarkable findings
• About 71% of respondents walk at least once a week for pleasure (walking, running route, tourism, etc.); 72% walk to the store at least once a week to do their shopping.
• The majority (65%) walk in the center of their municipality and 35% outside the center of the municipality.
• 61% of those surveyed will walk more than 15 minutes (or more) to a destination. The perception of the time spent walking firmly depends on how pleasant it is the trajectory is.