£6 a gallon petrol and a hike in insurance premiums will lead to a surge in cycling use

Bike spike expected as motoring costs increase

According to the AA, average petrol prices have passed the 130p a litre mark for the first time. This is just 2p shy of £6 a gallon.

Filling up a typical 50-litre petrol tank now costs £8.65 more than a year ago. An average two-car family is now paying £36.71 a month more for petrol than a year ago.

RAC motoring strategist Adrian Tink told the Evening Standard that the current unstable oil market and fuel duty price rises in April could see petrol prices "increase by another 8p a litre in the near future".

AA president Edmund King said: "This kind of rise will seriously impact on people’s car use."

As well as increased fuel costs, British drivers will pay more for insurance from next year because of yesterday’s decision by the European Court of Justice that UK insurers can no longer use gender as a risk factor when calculating premiums.

Young drivers, especially male young drivers (the most dangerous motorists on the road), will find insurance costs will rise and rise, and many companies may even pull the rug on them.

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, said: "Following the Court’s judgement, I fear that many insurers will find the young driver market too risky and pull out altogether. That would reduce competition, leading to higher prices."

All bad news for drivers, but good news for the cycle trade. As more and more drivers realise their addiction to motoring is costing them dearly, some will switch to more economical ways of getting about. And once they discover that cycling is not just better for their wallets but for their waistlines and for their travel times, they may stick with cycling, even if the price of motoring reduces.

However, it’s unlikely that fuel costs will reduce significantly over time. Peak Oil and Middle Eastern instability will ensure that motoring keeps getting more expensive.

As cars, slowly, disappear from roads, and more drivers start following "eco-driving" advice (drive at or below speed limits is one of the key bits of advice), more cyclists will appear on the roads.

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