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Related to: Physical Activity, Healthy Weight. Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, Rural Areas, Built Environment, Air Quality, Employment and Economic Activity, Green Infrastructure and Spaces, Road Traffic CollisionsTourism and the Visitor Economy

 

Key Facts:

  • In 2014/15 in B&NES 3.8% of adults cycled for utility purposes at least once per week and 59.3% of adults walked (at least 10 minutes) for utility purposes at least once per week.
  • The proportion of adults living in B&NES that cycled at least 3 times per week in 2014/15 was lower than the average for England as a whole (3.2% compared to 4.1%).  
  • The proportion of adults living in B&NES that walked for at least 10 mins at least 5 times per week  in 2014/15 was higher than the average for England as a whole (56.3% compared to 50.6%). This represents an increase of almost 10% since 2013/14.

Definitions

Active travel -  primarly means walking or cycling as an alternative to motorised transport (notably cars, motorbikes/mopeds etc.) for the purpose of making everyday journeys.1 In its broadest sense active travel covers all forms of human powered movement -including running, rollerblading and scooting.  The key element of an active travel trip is that a person’s physical activity results in the completion of an everyday trip.

Benefits

Traffic reduction - Encouraging people to walk or cycle for more short trips (under 5 miles) will reduce traffic congestion – particularly in more urban areas like Bath, Keynsham, Midsomer Norton, Radstock, and Peasedown St John.   

Sustainable Development and Placemaking - More widespread uptake in active travel activities can both facilitate, and be encouraged by, new housing and commercial development 2 This accords with the National Planning Policy Framework 3 and NICE guidelines on Physical Activity and the Environment 4 which emphasise the need for new development to be allocated so as to manage patterns of growth to maximise use of public transport, walking and cycling.  It recognises that places where people choose to walk and cycle are also attractive locations to live and work.

Economic Growth – Existing traffic congestion and further traffic from new development may hamper local economic growth, with journey times to important destinations increasing.  Widespread uptake of active travel reduces infrastructure maintenance costs, encourages greater local shopping activity, increases ‘retail density spend’ by around 2.5 times a typical urban centre, and enables larger employment sites to achieve full occupancy through reduced parking requirements. 5 6

Tourism - Cycle tourists spend around 9% more (£81 per trip) on average compared with people using other modes of transport. 7

Public Health – 60% of men and 72% of women do not undertake a recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week 8 and inactivity directly contributes to 1 in 6 UK deaths, costing businesses and society £7.4 billion a year9 Incorporating cycling or walking into people’s daily routines is recognised as one of the most effective ways to increase physical activity10 Journeys on foot or by bike deliver positive stress management and wellbeing experiences for commuters, who report improved concentration levels compared to those travelling to work by car. 11

Environment – Widespread uptake of active travel, in place of motorised travel options, will help address air quality issues.


What does the data say?

Current levels of active travel

England

According to the Department for Transport's 2015 National Travel Survey for England, in 2015, 19% of trips were under 1 mile in length while 66% were under 5 miles. Although 76% of trips under 1 mile were walked, over 66% of trips 1-5 miles in length were done by car.  12

Bath and North East Somerest

In 2011 in B&NES 3% of commuter trips were done by bicycle an 17.2% by walking. 13

The Getting Around Bath transport strategy highlights significant increases in walking (35% in 2001 to 44% in 2011 for commuter trips within Bath) and cycling (4% in 2001 to 6% in 2011 for commuter trips within Bath) mode shares. They contributed to reduced car use within Bath (38% in 2001 to 31% in 2011). 14 

In 2014/15 in B&NES only 3.8% of adults cycled for utility purposes at least once per week and 59.3% of adults walked (at least 10 minutes) for utility purposes at least once per week. 15

Figure 1 shows that, in 2014/15, marginally higher proportions of people living in B&NES walked or cycled at least once a month when compared to the national average for England.  However, the proportion of adults living in B&NES that cycled at least 3 times per week was lower than the average for England as a whole (3.2% compared to 4.1%).  This may suggest a bias towards occasional leisure use of cycling, rather than regular utility cycling. 16

Conversely, data on walking activity levels for 2014/15 reveal that more than half (56.3 %) of adults living in B&NES walked for at least 10 mins at least 5 times per week.  This is considerably greater than the level reported on average across England (50.6%) and represents an increase of almost 10% since 2013/14. 17

Figure 1: Proportion of residents walking and cycling at least once per month in Bath and North East Somerset compared to England, 2012-13 to 2014-15

The 2014 review of cycle routes in Bath and North East Somerset highlighted that the Council’s Go by Bike programme has achieved year on year increases in the proportions of children cycling at participating schools (between 7% and 30% increases).  This compares favourably with the national average for regular cycling to school by children (reported to be between 2% and 5%).18 

Using the bike rides recording app Strava to understand cycling in Bath

Using the GPS tracking capability of a smartphone and similar devices, the Strava app allows people to plot how far and fast they go and compare themselves against other riders.  Bath: Hacked, a joint council/community initiative that aims to bring people and quality data together to do useful things for the community, has undertaken a project to explore how data from Strava can help people understand how cyclists move around Bath. 

What can we realistically change

Propensity to Cycle Tool 

The Department for Transport backed Propensity to Cycle Tool (PCT) was designed to assist transport planners and policy makers to prioritise investments and interventions to promote cycling. It shows existing demand for cycling on quiet routes, which could be increased through route improvements.