Busy pedestrian scene somewhere in Belgium, Source: Depositphotos

Belgium’s walking community unhappy with urban environments

Belgium’s walking community unhappy with urban environments

This is what the country’s first Pedestrian Barometer has revealed

Three regional associations promoting walking got together to conduct the first Pedestrian Barometer in Belgium as a way of measuring the mood among the public who choose their feet as their preferred mode of mobility.

The aim of the survey was to get an idea about the walkability of the urban environments in the country, and apparently, it turned out that the walkers were not too satisfied with them. On average, that indicator received a score of 10.4…out of 20.

The biggest issues for pedestrians are comfort, safety and policy. Even if Belgium is not known as a mountainous country, 73% of the survey respondents stated that they found the pedestrian spaces to be not wide and flat enough.

In addition, the pavements, which are designed to be the domain of pedestrians, are constantly littered with bikes, trash bins and traffic signs, which in turn creates unnecessary obstacles to walking. Almost two-thirds of the Belgian pedestrians found the sidewalks uneven or slippery.

The results clearly show there are still many areas where improvements can be made to make life easier for pedestrians,” said federal mobility minister George Gilkinet. The Belgian government paid for the survey. 

Other obstacles to walking

The Pedestrian Barometer found that 60% of Belgians travel on foot daily no matter the purpose of their trips, whether it be school, work, leisure or shopping. It appears, however, that a large part of that community is also dissatisfied with the infrastructure set aside for them.

It seems that in an age when governments are trying to encourage ditching private transport in favour of micromobility, public transport and walking both for the sake of environmental and public wellbeing, it’s inconceivable to think that people willing to walk may still find it hard or unsafe to do so in their own city.

Unsurprisingly, wider, well-maintained, secure and decluttered pavements top the wishlist for respondents (82%). Pedestrians also call for improvements regarding safety and adaptations of public spaces for children either walking or in prams, older people, and people with reduced mobility. Only 18% of respondents feel that an eight-year-old child can walk safely alone. Invertedly, nearly two-thirds of women felt unsafe walking alone at night, which would heavily influence in deciding to forego that option.

The Barometer can now serve as a guideline to local authorities in planning an urban environment that is friendly and inclusive to pedestrians.



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU