• Sep 7th 2007 at 10:25AM
  • 11
Before we get into this post, let's clear up how far a thousand meters is in American terms: it's almost eleven football fields. Now, imagine you're cheering a football game from the sidelines and, over the course of a quarter, you walk from one end to the other a few times. It's not a big deal, right? Well, for some people it is.

Whatcar.com has released the results of a survey that, frankly, are a bit saddening. The survey asked people in the UK if they would rather walk or drive to a destination 1000 meters away. Almost a quarter (23 percent, extrapolated to seven million Britons) said they'd rather drive.

We're not talking about whether or not there's anything worth walking to within 1000 meters (I understand that in many places, you can't get to the store or the school in that range), we're not talking about health issues or any disabilities that mean you can't walk. We're just saying, "Hey, there's something cool 1000 meters away. It'll take you 12 minutes to walk there, and between two and 12 to drive, depending on roads and traffic. What do you do?" Almost one in four say they'd rather drive, which is too many. Personally, I'd choose bike as my top choice (then walk, then drive), but I don't know if biking was an option in this survey. Either way, for short distances, a car is the wrong choice 90 percent of the time, I'd say.

Luckily, for billions of people, walking is still a perfectly normal way to get around on a daily basis, and here in America there are some very notable exceptions to the don't-wanna-walk mentality. From Lewis and Clark to Peter Jenkins to these two, America has a long history of people willing to walk (and far), but I don't doubt that the whatcar survey results would be just as bad, if not worse, if the questions were asked of Americans.

You can see a longer list of other highlights from the Whatcar survey after the jump, but these two jumped out at me:

42.7% supported a ban on all private transport in town centres if public transport is improved sufficiently.
42.7% said they never used public transport.

Why - why!?! - is The Onion always right?

[Source: Whatcar]
Millions won't even walk 1000m

Seven million people would rather use their cars than take a 1000-metre walk, according to an exclusive survey into green issues by whatcar.com.

In other words, almost one quarter (23%) of all of Britain's motorists would rather drive for a distance that would take just 12 minutes on foot, despite the obvious environmental and health benefits of walking.

Estimates suggest that driving the same distance can take between two and 12 minutes, depending on traffic conditions – so many of those who drive in built-up areas don't save any time.

Medical research also suggests that three half-hour walks a week can double an average person's fitness level, improve their health and prolong their life.

Other facts highlighted by the survey include:

30.2% of motorists rate the environment as very important to them. 4.5% say it is not at all important.

14.6% say their car's environmental impact is very important to them. 7.3% say it isn't at all important.

29.9% of respondents said they wouldn't pay more for a greener car, with the majority of them saying they would need a £500 tax incentive to buy green.

Although 71.2% of motorists know their car's carbon dioxide rating, just 36.3% said it affected their car choice.

65.8% of motorists support the introduction of an additional VED band to tax cars that emit more than 275g/km of carbon dioxide, with 49.8% saying drivers of such vehicles should be paying more than £800 a year in road tax.

36.9% were in favour of banning higher-emitting cars from town centres altogether, but only 12.8% felt diesels should be treated the same way.

42.7% supported a ban on all private transport in town centres if public transport is improved sufficiently.

29.9% said that the congestion charge would have to top £20 a day to stop them driving into towns and cities. A further 28.8% said they would stop if the charge topped £5.

42.7% said they never used public transport.

46.2% thought hydrogen fuel cell technology represented the future of motoring. Just 9.3% said diesel and 2.0% petrol. Stop-start technology was only rated by 11.5%.

"The whatcar.com survey has clearly highlighted two things: first, that motorists do care about the environment and are aware of their vehicle's impact, but also that the car is very much an integral part of everyday life for many and something they are not prepared to give up," said Iain Reid, whatcar.com producer.


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  • 11 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      That figure would me much, much higher in the states.

      My ex-girlfriend's father came to visit us a while back in Manchester.

      He was from Boston and i would consider him to be fairly fit and active person, who would exercise frequently.

      He went out for a run around the neighbourhood and was absolutely flabbergasted by the amount of people simply: 'walking about, out on the sidewalk'.

      This was after most shops were closed on a weekday evening.

      He said in the states, nobody walked anywhere and everyone drove even the smallest distances-the sidewalks were deserted, which echoes my own, albeit limited experience of America.

      I don't drive at all, and take public transport or walk everywhere-whether i'm living in a city or not & i'm certainly not an isolated case in this regard,
      • 8 Years Ago
      Yep, all you need here is a litre of water, a shower, and complete change of clothes when you reach your destination after walking 1000m in the weather we're stuck with most of the year.

      We're more than willing to buy a PHEV, however.

      >And when/if you're in your stuffy work clothes, with the hot sun, in the jungle of the city....
      • 8 Years Ago
      This would depend heavily on the weather and what I am doing/wearing. If I am in a suit and it is 90 degrees outside, I'd prefer to drive. If I am in casualwear and it is 70, I'd most definitely prefer to walk.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Only 23%? Wow, that's low. I have to wonder how many would answer the same way in the US? Probably the majority.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Yea, I know a lot of people in the US that wouldn't walk 100m without driving.. look at the way shopping areas are designed.. one giant-box store, drive in parking lot to next giant-box store, drive in parking lot to costco to buy groceries in shopping carts larger than a VW bug.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Yep, it's now 95% humidity and 95F (35C) outside.

      I'm not walking very far in that weather.

      I wonder if Canadian/N. European readers understand just how freakin' hot it is in much of the U.S., most of the year.

      >If I am in a suit and it is 90 degrees outside
      • 8 Years Ago
      And Americans aren't lame?

      I purposely park my car far out in the parking lot to avoid idiots and get a little exercise.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Most of the people in the survey probably have no idea how far 1000 metres actually is - all distances (as far as travel are concerned anyway) are pretty much all imperial still: all our road signs, our cars instruments, even fuel economy ratings and car warranties are still listed in miles etc.

      If they had said "Would you walk half a mile?" they might have got different answers...1000 is a large sounding number so if you aren't even sure how long a metre actually is its a bit daunting.
      • 8 Years Ago
      It may be that many Britons over the age of about 25 like many Americans do not know how far 1000 metres is it sounds much further than 1 kilometer or for arguments sake half a mile ! We still use miles here in the UK too but sell fuel by the litre ! The conclusions are still valid though. I find it amazing that anyone can say they cant walk that distance because it is 35C ! Wear a light weight suit - some people live in deserts ! And it can get to 35C (or -35C try that) in canada and even that hot in the UK except when we are having a monsoon ! A fir and person can easily stroll at 3-4 mph - those less able should be allowed any parking places nearer than that. And the health costs of obesity are huge.
      • 8 Years Ago
      That distance is 1 Km, or about 0.62 miles. While that distance isn't too far for me to walk, and is easy on a bicycle, I can understand why some people who are out of shape or pressed for time might not choose to do so. Of course, the weather conditions do make a difference.

      If asked about walking for shorter runs, say 100 to 500 meters, the survey results might be different.
      • 8 Years Ago
      It's actually better than I thought. I expected it to be around 50-65%

      1000 meters is about 1 mile. And when/if you're in your stuffy work clothes, with the hot sun, in the jungle of the city....
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