Despite David Cameron’s promise of a ‘cycling revolution’ and his pledge to double cycling levels in Britain by 2025, official figures show that there was a nine per cent decline in bicycle usage last year. Department for Transport (DfT) figures reveal a drop of about 300 million miles travelled by bike compared to 2014.
The data indicates that 3.2 billion miles were travelled by bicycle in 2015 compared with 3.5 billion in 2014. The DfT told The Times that the decline was a statistical blip masking an almost continuous annual increase.
While it’s true that the last recorded fall in DfT figures came in 2007 and cycling levels remain higher than they’ve been since the 1990s, it is striking that not one single region recorded a rise. Despite investment, even London saw a fall from 380 million miles cycled in 2014 to 370 million in 2015.
The overall drop also coincides with a record number of vehicles on British roads, with 316.7 billion traffic miles logged in 2015 – up 1.6 per cent on 2014. Provisional estimates for the 12-months up until March 2016 indicate a further rise to 318.5 billion vehicle miles in that period.
The biggest increase in 2015 was among delivery vans, where there was a 4.2 per cent rise and The Times asks whether Britain’s burgeoning internet shopping habit could be forcing cyclists off the road.
However, all classes of motor vehicle traffic saw a rise in 2015. Car traffic increased by 1.3 per cent to a record 248.9 billion vehicle miles. Traffic on rural A roads also rose by three per cent to the highest ever recorded level.