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Road journeys down in 2013 says DfT traffic figures

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

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.

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