Cycling numbers going nowhere, DfT statistics show


People are walking more often than three years ago but the number of cycling trips has stagnated, according to new official statistics which show ministers are still struggling to meet active travel targets.

According to Walking and Cycling Statistics, England: 2018, published by the Department for Transport (DfT), adults in England walked an average of 347 ‘stages’ in 2018 up from 300 stages in 2015. The average distance travelled in 2018 was 210 miles, up from 192 in 2015.


However, officials said that the number of cycling trips has remained flat over the same period. People made an average of 17 trips in both 2015 and 2018, although the average distance travelled rose from 53 to 58 miles.

The Government’s Cycling and Walking Investment strategy sets an ‘aim’ of doubling cycling from 800 million ‘stages’ in 2013 to 1.6 billion in 2025.

However the 2017 National Travel Survey (NTS) indicated that by 2017 there were only 991 million.

DfT officials said the level of cycling in 2018 was similar to 2017.

Men cycled two and a half times as many trips and almost four times further than women but women made more walking trips and walked further than men, officials said.

The 2018 Walking and Cycling statistics draw on both the 2018 NTS, which the DfT has also published, and the Active Lives Survey.

The 2018 NTS reveals that the average number of yearly trips (by all modes) made by people living in England increased each year from 2015 to 2018.

On average people made 986 trips in 2018 – the highest since 2009. Officials said most of the increase in the average number of trips was due to an increase in walking.

Walking was the second most common mode of travel in terms of trips made (27%) but only accounted for 3% of distance travelled. Car journeys accounted for the vast majority of trips (61%) and most of the distance travelled (77%).

A trip is a one-way course of travel with a single main purpose. Trips consist of one or more stages and a new stage is defined when there is a change in the mode of transport.

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