Nov 28, 2023 - News

Walking trips fall sharply in Portland post-pandemic

Daily walking trips per 1,000 people in 2022
Data: StreetLight Data; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The number of daily walking trips taken by Americans — including here in the City of Roses — has plummeted since the pandemic.

Why it matters: Walking is not only good for our health, but also benefits the environment since it's the original form of zero-emissions travel.

By the numbers: The number of annual average daily walking trips in the Portland metro area fell by 36% between 2019 and 2022, per a new StreetLight Data report.

  • That slightly outpaces the national decline of 36%.
  • Of the top 100 metropolitan areas, Portland ranked 46th for walking rates.

How it works: StreetLight measures travel behavior based on anonymized data from mobile devices, vehicle GPS systems and more.

  • For this analysis, one "walking trip" is any trip taken by foot that is more than 250 meters — about 820 feet — from start to finish.

What they found: It's clear that the pandemic had an "obvious impact," StreetLight says. But beyond that, the group isn't sure what's keeping Americans off their feet.

  • Some of this could be the prevalence of remote work, which can make it all too easy to become overly sedentary.
  • And some of it could be part of the downtown recovery story — if a city has fewer restaurants and shops open, there's less reason for locals and visitors to have a walkabout.

Both of those trends have had major influences in Portland, as the city has one of the highest rates for remote work in the country, according to census data.

  • In 2022, 23% of people in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro metro area worked from home.

The big picture: "Active transportation" — that is, walking and biking — accounted for just 10% of overall trips nationwide in 2022, down from 14% in 2019.

  • Driving, however, is only 4% below 2019 levels — yet another sign that America is a country of car lovers.

Zoom in: Despite being renowned for its bicycle culture, walkability and sprawling public transportation system, it's not always safe for pedestrians to get around here due to reckless driving and speeding.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Portland.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Portland stories

No stories could be found

Portlandpostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Portland.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more