The National Travel Survey 2013 shows that the number of ‘trips’ made by people last year was at the lowest level since the survey began.
The analysis is based on a national survey of more than 16,000 people, carried out on behalf of the DfT.
The fall is largely a result of a decline in walking and short journeys by car for purposes including shopping, visiting friends and commuting. The growth of internet shopping and more working from home could be contributing to the decline.
The survey shows that trip rates have been falling steadily since 1995/97. On average each person made 923 trips in 2013 compared with 1,094 in 1995/97 – a decline of 16%. The decline is largely in shorter trips of less than one mile – for distances greater than this the reduction is only 6%.
At 6,584 miles, the average distance travelled per person per year was 6% lower in 2013 than in 1995/97 (6,983 miles). The distance travelled peaked in 2003 at 7,202 miles.
However, the average trip length has increased by 12% from 6.4 miles in 1995/97 to 7.1 miles in 2013. The time spent travelling has remained fairly static over the period at around an hour a day.
Of all trips made in 2013, 18% were less than one mile in length, 67% less than five miles and 95% were less than 25 miles.
The figures led the Telegraph to declare that “Britain is becoming a sedentary nation as the rise of online shopping and lifestyle changes have seen one in five people give up longer walks entirely”.
The Telegraph says that people are taking a third fewer journeys by foot than they did 18 years ago, and that one in five Britons no longer take any walks lasting longer than 20 minutes – including 18% of children and teenagers and almost half those over 70.