Bike use up: UK govt

Traffic congestion helps put bums on saddles

The UK Department for Transport’s latest figures show an increase in the amount of cycling taking place.

According to the  recently released (and bulkily comprehensive) Transport Trends report, “Between 2000 and 2006, pedal cycle traffic grew from 4.2 to 4.6 billion vehicle kilometres, the highest since 1992.”

In other words, compared to 2000, 2006 saw Brits  cycling a staggering extra 400 million kilometres or just short of 250 million miles.

Put another way it looks rather less impressive; in 2000 the average distance cycled, over the whole year, for every person in the country was roughly 71km and in 2006 it was about 77km. Still, given that the government’s own figures showed cycling either declining or standing still between 1984 and 1999, this is certainly good news for cyclists.

The same report shows longer journey times and more congestion for motor traffic adding another incentive for yet more people to get on their bikes.

The Times headlined on his very point recently. ‘Huge rise in traffic choking roads’ it proclaimed, highlighting the DfT’s study figures for 1997-2007,  showing a rise in motor traffic of up to 20 percent  in places.

Central London was the only place that showed a drop in traffic levels – surely no coincidence that it’s one of the few places that has also shown a rocketing of cycling levels over the same period. Rural areas were the worst affected. 

Government cycling figures are often regarded as being gross underestimates and they have come in for criticism in the past from Sustrans.

The national cycling charity conducts its own monitoring programme and is negotiating with the Department for Transport to have its stats incorporated into the government’s cycling figures. That would surely show an even greater increase in cycling and a truer picture of how just how many of us are turning to two instead of four wheels.

Sustrans’ 2006-2207 figures showed the seventh successive year of increased usage on the National Cycle Network – even once the increase in its length is taken into account.  

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