Cycling continued to grow in 2021 as other modes of transport fell, according to new data from the Department for Transport.
A new Document Road Traffic Estimates (opens in a new tab)released on Wednesday, shows that while cycling declined between the peak of the lockdown in 2020 and the eased measures in 2021, it remained above 2019 levels by 15.7%.
Faced with the growing use of bicycles, there was a 15.8% decrease in car and taxi use in 2021, more nearly a quarter of the rate of bus and coach use l ‘last year.
The DfT document states: “Although all types of motor vehicles saw an increase between 2020 and 2021, overall traffic levels remained below pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Car and motorcycle traffic experienced the largest increases, but still remained below pre-pandemic levels by -15.8% and -5.2%, respectively.
“Although van and truck traffic saw a smaller increase in vehicle kilometers traveled between 2020 and 2021, they exceeded pre-pandemic levels by 1.7% and 1.6%, respectively. Conversely, pedal bike traffic levels declined between 2020 and 2021, but remained above 2019 levels by 15.7%.
However, activity in England has now fallen back to pre-pandemic levels, government statistics also showed.
According to the last National Travel Surveyreleased by the Department for Transport on Wednesday, the average person in England made just 2% of all trips by bicycle in 2021.
The study also found that the average number of trips made by bicycle fell to 15 per person last year, from 20 in 2020.
Sarah Mitchell, chief executive of Cycling UK, said in a statement: “It is sadly not surprising that over the past year these levels of cycling have dropped as some short-sighted councils have started to remove protected lanes which were protecting people, and traffic levels rose again. “
DfT statistics show that historically, cycling fell rapidly during the 1950s and 1960s during the car ownership boom, before stabilizing and then growing throughout the 21st century to the present.
“In 2020, there was a 46.1% increase over 2019 levels to 5.3 billion kilometers on a bicycle,” the document states. “In 2021, pedal cycle levels fell 20.8% from 2020 levels to 4.2 billion kilometres, but remain above 2019 levels (by 15.7%).”
“Monthly levels of pedal bicycle traffic in 2021 were higher than the equivalent months in 2019, except for October 2021,” it continues. “The highest traffic levels were observed in March and April. During these months, traffic levels were 41% and 35% higher respectively than the equivalent month in 2019.”
As the roads are generally calmer, for motorized traffic in any case, the provisional figures show that road fatalities have decreased in 2020 and 2021.
“Provisional figures for 2021 estimate that there were 1,560 reported road deaths, a reduction of 12% from the 2017-2019 average,” the latest document said. “Compared to 2020, there was an increase in fatalities of all severities in 2021, although pedal cyclists showed a reduction in fatalities (-20%).”
Earlier this month, the National Travel Survey showed that cars accounted for 59% of all trips, making it the most popular transportation choice in 2021.
Sally Copley, executive director of external affairs at walking and cycling charity Sustrans, said at the time: “It’s simple. Today’s data shows that if we want more people to walk, ride and cycle, then the way we move must be safe, accessible and engaging.
“During the pandemic, when there were fewer cars on the roads, the public took to cycling. It’s sad to see this return to an expensive and polluting car, especially since the urgency of alternatives has only increased, along with the cost of living.
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