Are four wheels overused for short journeys?

12.00 | 9 September 2016 | | 7 comments

Three in five journeys between one and two miles in distance were made by car or van in England during 2015, the National Travel Survey (NTS) has revealed.

Published yesterday (8 September), the annual survey shows that just 32% of journeys between the aforementioned distances were made by foot, and 3% by bicycle, compared to 58% by car or van, either as a driver or passenger.

Looking at journeys under a mile in length, 21% were made by car or van, compared to 76% by foot and 2% by cycle.

With 16,000 individuals taking part, the NTS is published to provide a consistent source of data on personal travel behaviour across England.

The 2015 edition shows that the car continues to dominates travel in England, accounting for 64% of trips made and 78% of distance covered.

There are no significant year-on-year changes in levels of walking (22% of trips and 3% of distance) and cycling (2% of trips and 1% of distance).

Looking at longer term trends, the mix between active, private and public modes of travel has changed marginally since the mid 1990s.

The share of active modes (walking and cycling) has decreased from 28% to 24%, while the share of public transport has increased from 9% to 11% since 1995/97. Private travel (such as car and motorcycles) has increased by 3% to 65%.

Among the survey’s other findings are that each person, on average, made 914 trips in 2015 – the lowest trip rate recorded. In terms of gender, women make more trips than men on
average, but men travel 20% further.

Focussing on active travel, 20% of respondents said they either never made a journey by foot, or did so less than once a year. 65% walked at least ‘once or twice a week’.

65% of people aged over five years use a bicycle ‘less than once a year or never’ with just 15% cycling at least ‘once or twice a week’.


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    Guzzi, it clearly is a statement of fact in Holland where considerations of carrying large stuff, young/old passengers, weather and personal choice all apply just as they do here. True they don’t have many steep hills but then nor does much of UK and anyway e-bikes mean those no longer need to be a barrier.

    Unsafe roads, or more accurately roads perceived as unsafe, are a huge factor here and that is precisely my point, that is what we have been investing in for decades. When surveyed the majority of Brits indicate they would like to cycle more and the main reason they don’t is that they feel the roads are unsafe for cycling.

    Changing our transport investment strategy, far from removing personal choice, would actually enable it.

    Don, Cheltenham
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Don “A car is not necessary for the majority of journeys under 5 miles.”
    A comment you are perfectly entitled to make but not a statement of fact. A whole host of other things be to be considered: like carrying stuff too large for a bike, young/old passengers, ‘unsafe’ roads, steep hills, wet weather and of course PERSONAL CHOICE. We still have that don’t we, even if none of the above apply.

    Guzzi, Newport
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    A car is not necessary for the majority of journeys under 5 miles. For example only 36% are driven in the Netherlands.

    For years successive UK governments have effectively been investing in unnecessary congestion, pollution, poor health and road risk. Investment in making alternatives attractive, convenient and safe has been shown to have some of the best BCRs going.

    The fact that so many of the contributors to this forum seem incapable of even imagining an alternative illustrates how deeply ingrained the car dependant mind set is.

    Ironically, when it comes to sensible provision for short trips, we have a long way to go but I am certain that we will have to go.

    PS To Pat in Wales I have two words- congestion charge.

    Don, Cheltenham
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    Severl years ago a local authority representative attended a meeting at my wife’s school to provide a presentation and advice on how staff could cycle to and from work.

    Apart from the safety issue of carrying several curver boxes on the bike full of marking and the like, they were astounded to see him cycle off the school grounds towards the local pub where he promptly loaded his bike in to the boot of his car and drove off.

    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I regularly walk at least 5 miles several times a week for health reasons, but I would not walk to the shops and carry heavy bags back or buy hot food/frozen food to eat at home as it would not be in the best condition.

    Bill, Belfast
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    Knowing how much they like votes, who would think it likely that a politician would put forward a negative policy “to make car journeys less attractive”? If the policy makers can’t make walking and cycling more attractive in its own right without penalising car drivers, perhaps it is time to get real about the status quo and the prospects for change?

    Pat, Wales
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    This is entirely consistent with the view that in order to obtain any substantial modal shift then you need to make car journeys less attractive. The government policy of promoting car use and active travel use equally will not deliver any appreciable shift.

    With billions being spent of road construction to the exclusive benefit of motor vehicles and just millions on improving cycle facilities then the government is playing lip service to the health and environmental benefits of active travel.

    Rod King, Cheshire, 20’s Plenty for Us
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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