Workers ‘use more public transport’
Wednesday 21st August 2013, 10:00PM BST.
Cars are in decline as the main form of transport people use to get to work in England and Wales, a study has shown.
Although the 67% of commuters still drive to and from their workplace, the proportion has fallen by nearly 2% since 2001.
Meanwhile train, bus and tube travel has increased. More commuters are also getting on their bikes, with London standing out as the country’s cycling capital.
The research, based on 2011 census data, was conducted by a team from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Study leader Dr Anna Goodman said: “People in England and Wales remain highly car-dependent, but this research suggests we are starting to see a slight decline in car use and an increase in the alternatives.
“This gives some hope that people are travelling in the right direction towards creating a healthier and more environmentally sustainable transport system.”
Across England and Wales, car, van and motorcycle use by commuters has fallen by 1.8% since 2001, while journeying by public transport increased by the same amount.
Southern regions saw the greatest decline in car travel to work. In Greater London, the proportion of commuters relying on private motor transport had fallen by 8.8%.
Just under a third of commuters in the capital (32.2%) drove or rode motorcycles to work in 2011 while more than half of them used public transport – a rise of 7.3%.
Those not motoring or using public transport in London were walking or getting on their bikes.
Pedal power was becoming increasingly popular in London with cycling accounting for 4.3% of work journeys in the capital, a rise of 1.7% since 2001.
Cycling levels had risen in 29 out of 33 London boroughs. The leader was Hackney, where more than 15% of all commuters cycled to work in 2011, up 8.6%.
Overall the proportion of journeys to work made on bicycles across England and Wales had increased marginally by 0.1% to 3.1%.
The findings, published in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE, were welcomed by the charity Sustrans which campaigns for sustainable transport.
Chief executive Malcolm Shepherd said: “We’re pleased to see more commuters are ditching the car and getting on bikes or taking public transport.
“Although cycling is on the up, this research highlights the huge difference between increased cycling in cities compared to a drop in many rural areas.
“The Government recently announced significant funding to improve cycling in eight cities and four national parks across England over the next two years. Whilst Sustrans welcomed the government funding as an important step in the right direction, investment needs to be long term and cover all areas of the country, making it easier and safer for as many people as possible to choose cycling for their everyday journeys.”
A surprisingly large number of commuters walked to work, according to the study.
Across the whole of England and Wales, 10.9% of work journeys were made on foot in 2011, and in London a surprising 9%.
Nearly a quarter of all commuters walked to work in Norwich and Exeter.