Road journeys down in 2013 says DfT traffic figures

Poverty, recession and bad weather cited as reasons for fewer journeys

by Sarah Barth   May 12, 2013  

London traffic © Jank1000 | Dreamstime.com

Poverty and bad weather are two of the reasons why all types of motor vehicles made fewer journeys on all types of roads in the first quarter of this year.

The statistics from the Department for Transport show a 2.3 per cent decrease on all journeys on the same period last year.

It seems there's little surprise that ordinary car journeys are going down, given the length and depth of the economic slowdown.

Sustrans’ policy adviser Joe Williams told BikeBiz: "Motor vehicle traffic is in decline because many people simply cannot afford the cost of running a car.

"Transport poverty in the UK is far-reaching, denying millions of people access to jobs and opportunities. With oil prices only going up, UK governments must give people an alternative to the car by making affordable forms of transport like walking, cycling and public transport accessible for everyone."

But the DfT document expresses some surprise that given a small upturn in the fortunes of some sectors of business, we are not seeing an increase in commercial journeys.

It says: "An important factor affecting traffic appears to have been the heavy snowfall and icy conditions in many areas of Great Britain in the first quarter of 2013, dampening the traffic volumes. Initial analyses suggest that that this has not been to the extent of that seen in quarter four (October to December) of 2010.

"Preliminary estimates show GDP to have increased slightly overall between quarter one 2012 and quarter one 2013, by 0.6 per cent, with increases in the sectors we would expect to have the greatest influence on traffic volume.

"For example, the index for transport, storage and communication increased by 2.5 per cent between the first quarters of 2012 and 2013 and index for distribution, hotels and restaurants increased by 0.7 per cent during the same period."

The findings raise the question of whether the road traffic casualty statistics for the same period will also come down as a result - and we'll bring you those as soon as they are available.

4 user comments

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The increase in bicycle sales over the past 12, months, may have had an affect on the number journey's taken by car? more people using a bicycle for transport = less vehicles on the roads.

posted by Mostyn [412 posts]
12th May 2013 - 12:35

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less car journeys, less tax to the exchequer, joined up government thinking will probably to increase car taxes and reduce expenditure. No thought would be given to encouraging people to use other methods of getting around. You only have to consider the cost of bus and trains outside of London to see that.

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posted by mrmo [1601 posts]
12th May 2013 - 14:34

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"Transport poverty in the UK is far-reaching, denying millions of people access to jobs and opportunities"

Because the car is the only method of transport and you can't live without one, sheesh, car-centric much, might as well rename it the Department For More Cars Angry

This view by DfT really needs to change.

posted by kie7077 [626 posts]
12th May 2013 - 15:57

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DfT isn't the problem though, or at least not the only problem.

Start with planning, why do we build houses, shops, workplaces on different estates on the edge of towns?

We then come to the crux, how do you get from home to work to shop? by having everything all over the place, by having buses that invariably run from town centre to suburb but not from estate to estate the ease of convincing modal shift becomes harder.

Throw in the NIMBY element so no one wants workplaces near where they live,

As for actually constructing safe routes to convince people that cycling is safe, no chance, who is going to pay for that? Or you get complaints that such routes give burglars escape routes, or the routes tend to be dark and unlit and fears about mugging takes over.

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posted by mrmo [1601 posts]
12th May 2013 - 19:33

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