National Travel Survey concludes that only two per cent of journeys in Britain are made by bike, whilst car trips drop 12 per cent

Car trips in England are down by 12% while cycling trips remain stagnant at 2% of journeys since the late 90s according to National Travel Survey (NTS) figures, released today, prompting criticism of the government’s cycling policy.

Active travel campaigners say the statistics, which also show walking trips are down by 30% and public transport usage up, indicate the government’s road building drive is out of touch.

The CTC points out after the post-Olympic bounce in participation in 2012, cycling has fallen back to 2011 levels, with fewer but longer cycling trips than the 1995/97 survey.

CTC’s Senior Policy Coordinator, Chris Peck, said: “The gradual decline in trips made by bike, off-set partly by increasing trip lengths, shows that England’s cycling policy is failing: we’re managing to get middle-aged men back on their bikes, but we’re not creating the conditions to allow their children, or grandchildren to be able to cycle safely.”

The NTS, which surveyed just over 16,000 people this year, shows in 2013 18% of all car trips were less than one mile in length, and 67% less than five miles, journeys which could arguably be made by bike. Peck adds people are making fewer commuting trips by bike and more leisure trips. He says lack of adequate funding for cycling and poor road conditions contribute to the decline.

Policy Director for sustainable transport charity Sustrans, Jason Torrance, said: “People are making fewer car trips than ever before but road building is on the increase, proving the government’s transport agenda is completely out of touch.

“With the average trip just seven miles the bike provides the perfect alternative to driving, but government must provide dedicated local investment in cycling that transforms our roads and makes it possible for people to choose alternatives to the car.”

“The £24bn allocated to road building and improvements up to 2021 towers over investment to improve walking, cycling and public transport options in local communities, but yet of the lowest income households 48% do not have access to a car.”

The NTS measures the number and length of trips made, with a trip defined as a one-way journey. Overall travel figures are down, the greatest contribution being a fall in the number of shopping and commuting trips, and visits to friends.

  • David chadderton

    “Have you got the statistics?”
    Colonial Bloodnock replies, “Yes, very badly.” (The Goons, 1950s)
    Statistics can be meaningless numbers. Just percentages tell us nothing of value.
    I cycled a lot in England during 1955 through to 1993 for sport, recreation and daily commuting, similarly in Victoria, Australia since 1993 and into the future, I think.
    I am not aware of ever, not even once, being counted as a cyclist, and certainly never interviewed. How many other regular cyclists can say the same? Probably all of us. How does anyone know how many journeys a cyclist takes, and for what reason?
    Ok, actual surveys find something out and are good for making informed decisions at Government level, but 2% of what actual number? Maybe the quantity of cycling has increased but is a smaller proportion of car journeys due to increased traffic volume.
    Percentages! Pah, I’m going for a ride.

  • Dave M

    Whilst I appreciate that Sustrans is a self interested shouting campaigner and carefully selects what it chooses to highlight, surely it should be recognised there are other reasons for building roads other than just car users. It would be nice if CW could balance the debate a bit and perhaps highlight what sort of roads are being invested in and why.

    Lorries are vital to the economy, indeed new roads could take lorries away from other roads more suited to cyclists for example. You can’t deliver large loads by bike, or do Sustrans envisage a world where Sainsburys’ deliveries are made by Hovis bikes? I don’t know, but I don’t trust Sustrans one sided noisy shouting, I find them clearly ‘out of touch’ with reality.