Sunday, 2 November 2014

How to double cycling in ten years?

Easy, just make sure that the annual volatility in the National Travel Survey fluctuates to 2% in 2025.

From the Government's draft Cycling Delivery Plan
The Government's vision is that walking and cycling become the natural choices for shorter journeys - or as part of a longer journey- regardless of age, gender, fitness level or income. We need a long term commitment to embed change. In order to measure progress towards achieving this vision, we have set out our ambition for cycling until 2025:
- To double cycling, where cycling activity is measured as the estimated total number of bicycle stages made each year, from 0.8 billion stages in 2013 to 1.6 billion stages 
Cycling activity for the purpose of this document is measured as bicycle stages as in the National Travel Survey. 

From the National Travel Survey England 2013 Statistical Release, July 2014
In 2013, 1% of all stages were made by bicycle. Between 1995/97 and 2013 the average number of bicycle stages per person per year has fallen from 20 stages in 1995/97 to 15 stages in 2013; a fall of 25%. 
However, due to the relatively small number of cyclists in the NTS sample there is annual volatility in the cycling data and bicycle stages as a proportion of all stages generally fluctuates between 1% and 2%. 

Job done.

More seriously, the draft Cycling Delivery Plan fails to cite previous targets and the reasons this plan is expected to succeed where others failed. An informed historical view is the academic paper (PDF) Cycling Policy in the UK by Laura Golbuff and Rachel Aldred, UEL Sustainable Mobilities Research Group.

Compare the 25% fall in cycling stages between 1995/7 and 2013 with the ambition quoted in the paper:
In 1996, the UK’s first National Cycling Strategy (NCS) was launched with the aim ‘to increase cycle use’ (DoT, 1996a: 4). Its central target was to ‘double the number of trips by cycle (on 1996 figures) by end 2002 and quadruple the number of trips by cycle (on 1996 figures) by end of 2012’ (ibid).