Information Sheet for Local Government



Information Sheet 4: Ideas for Local Government to Promote Walking

There are a number of things that local government and councils can do to help people participate in Walk to Work Day (WTWD) and to facilitate walking more generally. This information sheet provides some ideas on how to do it.

On Walk to Work Day

In the lead up to, and on WTWD local governments have many opportunities to promote walking and its many benefits in their community and to use the event as a catalyst to promote existing walking initiatives or facilities as well as take the opportunity to review how walking might be further encouraged.

Things you can do:

  • involve your transport, road safety, environment and occupational and health officers  as well as public relations staff in planning for the event and other activities to support the event;
  • involve your local divisions of general practice and area/district/local health services in the planning of the event and other activities;
  • promote the event in public venues, on public transport etc by displaying the posters;
  • utilise your State/Territory PR agency (see WTWD website) and your local health services to ensure wide dissemination of materials and information about the health, social and environmental benefits of walking each day;
  • encourage local businesses to be involved in the event and in other walking initiatives;
  • draw up a pedestrian plan for the next twelve months or more;
  • hold a special walking event on the day with the mayor and other local celebrities and officials engaged;
  • plan for a bigger involvement in WTWD in 2006.

The role of local government

Walking is a healthy, environmentally friendly way to get around and can be a key part of  efforts to improve mobility and protect our environment. It allows the community to combine transportation and physical activity. People are more likely to be physically active and walk more when the environment in which they live and work is more activity-friendly. It also provides a more sociable and connected community.

Local government as an employer

Another way that local government can promote walking and physical activity generally is by being a model employer and being seen to support healthy lifestyle programs for its own employees.


Local government and planning

An important role for local government is to provide for and improve walking conditions in the area. This can involve such things as:

§         developing a specific pedestrian plan and setting up a pedestrian committee;

§         making certain parts of the city/town car free;

§         reducing traffic speeds around key intersections and business hubs;

§         making traffic signals work better for pedestrians;

§         reducing crossing distances where possible;

§         repairing and improving sidewalks;

§         reviewing proposed developments to make sure they are as pedestrian-friendly as possible; and

§         encouraging landscaping and building designs that make walking pleasant and safe.


Local government and transport

A pedestrian program can be part of the areas transport plan which could involve such things as:

§         promoting park and ride options as less costly, safe and healthy alternatives;

§       making walking and cycling in conjunction with public transport a cheaper option than driving and parking;

§         create more “walkable” neighbourhoods, particularly to common destinations such as supermarkets; newsagencies, chemists etc;

§         creating more access to recreational spaces and natural facilities;

§         reviewing safety of key walking routes and recreational spaces.


A number of States/Territories have a range of projects being put in place under the TravelSmart program. More details on these can be found at:


Local government and health promotion

Local government should also support walking through promotional activities and educational projects. This can involve the provision of pamphlets and on line resources, articles in newspapers and neighbourhood papers about:

§         Health benefits of walking ( this could be prepared with the help of the local divisions of general practice and local area or district health service)

§         Environmental benefits of walking

§         General laws about pedestrians e.g.

o                   Zebra crossings; yielding right of way to pedestrians; penalty.

o                   Protection of blind persons crossing or attempting to cross.  

o                   Use of paths and walking routes by pedestrians; rules and regulations.        

§          Providing maps of walking routes linking to public transport and walking trails for recreation.

Other initiatives might involve special events to promote walking and other physical activity such as:

§         leave the car at home days;

§         special walking events encompassing places of interest and recreation such as lakes, rivers, nature reserves etc;

§         biking weeks;

§         clean up days or green weeks;

§         travel smart initiatives.


Some key events to build on apart from WTWD (and Walk Safely to School Day) might include:

  • Heart Week;
  • Diabetes Week;
  • Daffodil Day;Pink Ribbon Day (Cancer Council)
  • Clean Up Australia Day;
  • World Carfree Day;
  • World Move for Health Day.


For more information

Additional information is contained in other materials and links on the WTWD website.

 If you want to discuss these ideas further you can call the Pedestrian Council on 02 9968 4555 or the relevant PR agency in your State/Territory (see website for details).