The National Travel Survey for 2013 has been released by the Department for Transport. Despite the DfT’s denials about "peak car" the survey reveals that between 1995/97 and 2013 the average distance of car driver trips and passenger trips both decreased by 12 percent. However, DfT’s road building plans are based on car use rising. Much of the billions to be pumped into building more roads are for motorway yet long-distance trips make up just 5 percent of the total number of car trips.
Of all trips made in 2013, 18 percent were less than one mile in length, 67 percent less than 5 miles and 95 percent were less than 25 miles. A five mile journey is easily cycled but only between 1 and 2 percent of journeys are made by bicycle.
In 2013, 77% of total distance travelled was by car.
The travel survey said: "Changes in car usage tend to be affected by wider economic factors, such as the state of the economy and fuel prices, which influence car ownership and the trip behaviour of car users. Increases to the cost of motoring could also be expected to have a negative effect on car use."
However, the drop in car use started in 1995, long before the recent recession. The drop in car use is billed as "peak car".
Average distance travelled by bicycle increased by 8 percent from 46 miles per person per year in 1995/97 to 49 miles in 2013. The average distance travelled by bicycle by London residents has increased by 55 percent since 1995/97.
In London, 44 percent of residents do not use cars for their daily journeys. In the north east of England 31 percent of residents rely on other modes of transport although in the south west this is 17 percent.
Sustrans’ Policy Director, Jason Torrance, said: “People are making fewer car trips than ever before but road building is on the increase, proving the government’s transport agenda is completely out of touch.
"The £24bn allocated to road building and improvements up to 2021 towers over investment to improve walking, cycling and public transport options in local communities, but yet of the lowest income households 48 percent do not have access to a car.
“With the average trip just seven miles the bike provides the perfect alternative to driving, but government must provide dedicated local investment in cycling that transforms our roads and makes it possible for people to choose alternatives to the car.”