The National Travel Survey (NTS) has revealed the trends in cycling trips for 2021, showing a 27% decrease in the number of cycling trips per person compared to 2020.
The NTS is a household survey of personal travel by residents of England travelling within Great Britain, from data collected via interviews and a seven-day travel diary, which enables analysis of patterns and trends.
The most common purpose for a cycling trip was leisure with 46% in 2021, the survey found. This was followed by commuting (27%), shopping (11%) and education or escort education (8%).
Sally Copley, executive director of external affairs at walking and cycling charity Sustrans, said: “It’s simple. Today’s data shows that if we want more people to walk, wheel and cycle, then the way we get around must be safe, accessible, and appealing.
“During the pandemic, when there were fewer cars on the road, the public took to their bikes. It’s sad to see this return to expensive and pollutant car use, especially as the urgency for alternatives has only increased, alongside the cost of living.
“We can see many people walk 20 minutes or more at least once a week. To capitalise on this, it’s essential to plan neighbourhoods where what people need is within a 20-minute return walk, particularly benefiting women who do more trips by walking than men.”
In 2021, males made more cycling trips on average than females in all age groups, with an overall average of 24 cycling trips per person in 2021, compared to seven cycling trips per person by females.
Males aged 50 to 59 made the highest number of cycling trips with 40 trips per person in 2021. For females, those aged 40 to 49 made the highest number of cycling trips with 12 trips per person in 2021.
In 2021, 47% of people aged five and over had access to a pedal cycle. Young children aged five to 10 years old had the highest rates of pedal cycle access at 89%, followed by 11 to 16-year-olds (70%) and 40 to 49-year-olds (53%).
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Around 16% of people reported to have cycled at least once a week, and 61% less than once a year or never at the time of interview in 2021. In 2020, 20% of people reported to have cycled at least once a week, and 61% less than once a year or never.
In 2020, the proportion of people cycling less than once a year or never fell to its lowest since 2003, and this has remained stable in 2021.