‘Levelling-up Walking as a Mode of Transport’ – a Case for Changing Hierarchies


  • David Chapman Lulea University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden
  • Finn Nilson
  • David Lindelow
  • Glenn Berggård
  • Charlotta Johansson


Walking as a Mode of Transport, Pedestrians Needs, health and well-being




Despite the key role of walking in achieving the compact and 15-minute city, improving public health and reaching sustainability goals, walking 'as a mode of transport' is often overlooked in the transport planning discourse (Johansson et al., 2022; 2023). Today, most emphasis is placed on either motorised transport or transport modes such as cycling, regardless of whether the focus is on city planning, logistics or safety. As a consequence, pedestrian injuries account for an increasing share of road traffic injuries in high income countries and motorised transport continues to be seen as the norm. Consequently, the aim of this study was to gather leading researchers and practitioners – in different and various ways related to walking as a mode of transport – to identify common problems, issues, and priorities, as well as to identify potential ways forward in solving these issues.

Between 2021 and 2024 a survey, a series of focus groups and individual interviews were held with academics and practitioners across Scandinavia and the United Kingdom to better understand the current state-of-the-art of walking as a mode of transport. Participants – a total of 135 policymakers, practitioners and academics – were strategically selected from the authors’ professional networks as well as using a snowballing strategy to reach saturation. Data was collected through a total of 22 focus groups, as well as individual surveys and individual interviews. The combination of both individual and collective opinions has the advantage of both making sure that all individual’s specific comments are included as well as the combined experiences and perspectives (Wibeck, 2010)

In the analysis of the material, a thematic model: realising walking as a mode of transport, evolved. Whilst illustrating an ideal construct in which planning and safety perspectives work coherently, combining different methodologies and input data, the data also identified the problematic disparity and disconnectedness between these two overarching fields, thereby alluding to why walking as a mode of transport remains outside of the major transport and urban planning discourse. The results also identified an important knowledge gap; knowing what the individual and societal needs are related to walking.

Together, the results suggest that there is a strong desire amongst policymakers, practitioners and academics in levelling-up walking as a mode of transport and changing the status and hierarchy in the transport system. However, to do so requires a more holistic view, combining different methodologies and perspectives and better understanding how safety and planning traditions can be combined.


Johansson, C., Lindelöw, D., Chapman, D., Nilson, F., and Berggård, G. (2023) Resultat workshops om forskningsprogram om planering för gångtrafik. Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet.

Johansson, C., Lindelöw, D., Chapman, D., Nilsson, F., and Berggård, G. (2022) Förstudie för Centrum för planering för Gång. Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet.

Wibeck, V. (2010) Fokusgrupper: om fokuserade gruppintervjuer som undersökning. 2nd Edition. Lund: Studentlitteratur.