Walking and cycling, 2015-2016

The Department for Transport publishes a range of walking and cycling statistics for adults (persons aged 16 and over) at the local authority level. They have also made available this interactive map: http://maps.dft.gov.uk/walking-and-cycling-statistics/.

This short article considers the figures that focus on residents who do any walking or cycling at least once per month. The statistics are official, but not classed as National Statistics. The estimates are sourced from the Active Lives Survey, 2016. The data was gathered between mid-November 2015 and mid-November 2016.

Key points

Walking

The Sport England Active Lives Survey, 2016, estimated that 76.3% (+/-1.5%) of resident adults (persons aged 16 and over) in the Lancashire-12 area undertook one or more continuous walks of at least 10 minutes per month in 2015/16. This figure is not significantly different to the England estimate of 77.3% (+/-0.3%).

Within the Lancashire-14 area it was estimated that Blackburn with Darwen (67.2%, +/- 6.8%), Pendle (70.4%, +/-5.7%), Blackpool (70.9%, +/- 5.7%) and Hyndburn (71.1%. +/- 5.7%) had statistically lower percentages of adults who undertook one or more continuous walks of at least 10 minutes per month in 2015/16. For the remaining authorities in the Lancashire-14 area, owing to the wide confidence intervals, none of the percentages were significantly different to the England figure.

The figures highlight that there are notable proportions of the population that state that they do not undertake a continuous walk each month of at least 10 minutes.

Cycling

For cycling, the Sport England Active Lives Survey, 2016, estimated that 16.8% (+/- 1.5%) of resident adults (persons aged 16 and over) in the Lancashire-12 area did some cycling per month in 2015/16. This figure is not significantly different to the England estimate of 17.1% (+/-0.3%).

In the Lancashire-14 area, only Lancaster 26.6% (+/- 5.5%) had an estimated percentage of adults who did any cycling per month which was significantly above the England figure in statistical terms. Burnley (8.1%, +/- 3.0%), Hyndburn (8.5%, +/- 4.0%), Rossendale (8.8%, +/- 3.0%), Blackburn with Darwen (10.1%, +/- 3.8%) and Pendle (11.4%, +/- 3.2%) had estimates of adults who did any cycling per month which were significantly below the England figure in statistical terms.

The cycling estimate for Burnley of 8.1% was the joint third lowest in England (ignoring the confidence intervals). When the confidence intervals are applied to the rate, we can presume that the range of rates for cycling is somewhere between 5.1% and 11.1% in the authority.

The highest cycling rate in England was in Cambridge, which recorded a value of 63.2% (+/-5.2%). At 43.1% (+/- 8.5%) the Isles of Scilly were second, but a footnote points to the very small population of the authority and thereby the reliability of the figure is questioned, but Oxford is third with a more reliable 42.8% (+/- 5.5%), ignoring the confidence intervals.

Table 1. Residents who walk or cycle at least once per month (2015/16)

  Walk % Confidence intervals (walking) Cycle % Confidence intervals (cycling)
Burnley  74.6  ±5.3  8.1  ±3.0
Chorley 80.3  ±4.7  19.3  ±4.7
Fylde 80.9  ±4.4  19.2  ±5.1
Hyndburn 71.1  ±5.7  8.5  ±4.0
Lancaster 79.3  ±4.8  26.6  ±5.5
Pendle 70.4  ±5.7  11.4  ±3.2
Preston 76.3  ±5.3  16.7  ±5.2
Ribble Valley  80.8  ±4.1  20.1  ±4.9
Rossendale  74.7  ±5.6  8.8  ±3.0
South Ribble  76.6  ±4.8  19.7  ±5.5
West Lancashire  76.0  ±5.0  16.3  ±5.1
Wyre  73.0  ±5.7  17.6  ±5.2
Lancashire-12  76.3  ±1.5  16.8  ±1.5
Blackburn with Darwen  67.2  ±6.8  10.1  ±3.8
Blackpool  70.9  ±5.7  16.8  ±4.4
North West 75.5 ±0.8 15.2 ±0.7
England 77.3 ±0.3 17.1 ±0.3

Note: 95% confidence intervals

Source: Department of Transport figures from Active Lives Survey – Sport England. Walking and cycling statistics, 2016, table CW0303 (walking) and table CW0302 (cycling).

Figure 1. Walking rates with confidence intervals

 

Note: 95% confidence intervals

Source: Walking and cycling statistics, England, 2016, Department for Transport/Sport England - table CW0303

The authorities with bars shaded mauve in figure 1 above have walking rates which are significantly below the England rate. There are no authorities in the Lancashire-14 area with rates above the England rate.

Figure 2. Cycling rates with confidence intervals

Note: 95% confidence intervals 

Source: Walking and cycling statistics, England, 2016, Department for Transport/Sport England - table CW0302

In figure 2 above, only Lancaster, with a bar shaded green, has a cycling rate significantly above England. The five authorities with bars shaded mauve are significantly below the England rate.

Pedal cycle traffic statistics

The Department for Transport also publish statistics on vehicle miles cycled, or road traffic flows for pedal cycles. These are found in Table TRA0403. The statistics do not go down to county level, but are given for the North West region: 310 million vehicle miles, of which 140 million vehicle miles were in Greater Manchester and Merseyside while a further 160 million vehicle miles were in those other areas, Cumbria, Lancashire and Cheshire which were not formerly metropolitan counties. These figures quoted are for 2016. The statistics date back to 1993 and were fairly static until around 2000 but became more fluid from there on and show a more definite upward trend from 2009 onwards.

Additional cycle information

Preston is the midpoint of the national cycle network which comprises 10,000 miles of traffic-free routes and traffic-calmed or minor roads. One of the features of the 2012 Preston Guild (A civic event celebrated only every 20 years) was the establishment of the Preston Guild Wheel, a 21 mile on-and-off road circular cycle route. A selection of the national routes in Lancashire include route 6: Preston-Lancaster; Blackburn-Rishton; Accrington-Baxenden. Route 55: Preston-Cuerden Valley Park, north of Chorley and the Old Tramway Preston-Bamber Bridge. Please also see the cycling section of the Visit Lancashire website, and the Lancashire page of the CycleStreets journey planner system.  

The Lancaster city and Morecambe urban area was one of the original 'Cycling Demonstration Towns', an initiative  which began in 2005 and developed into the Cycling City and Towns Programme, which continued until 2011. The legacy of these programmes can be seen in the continued good performance for active cycling in the area.

The Department for Transport website has vehicle mile figures for various classes of road vehicles including pedal cycles. Yearly results are available for the 12-district Lancashire County Council area, Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool. The web links also include access to the yearly results for the hundreds of traffic count points that include figures for pedal cycles.  

Age-specific rates of walking

In 2015, Lancashire County Council requested some additional data from the Department for Transport regarding walking frequencies by various age-groups (table 2). Because of the small sample size, it was necessary to merge five years of data and some of the age-bands.

For all people aged over two years, only 40.2% stated that they walked for 20 minutes or more, three times a week. A substantial 20% walked this distance less than once a year or never.

For people aged 70 or over, 27.6% stated that they walked 20 minutes for three or more times a week, but 45.4% were in the less than once a year or never category.  This lowest walking frequency category accounted for around 14% of respondents aged between two and 59 years.

Table 2. Residents who walk for 20 minutes or more by age (2010/14), Lancashire-12 area

Frequency

All aged 2+

2-16

17-29

30-39

40-49

50-59

60-69

70+

3 or more times a week

40.2%

45.0%

44.8%

41.9%

34.8%

44.5%

40.0%

27.6%

Once or twice a week

23.2%

25.8%

24.7%

23.5%

27.4%

23.5%

18.9%

16.6%

Less than once a week, more than twice a month

6.0%

7.4%

5.6%

10.0%

6.9%

4.8%

4.0%

2.9%

Once or twice a month

5.7%

4.8%

3.9%

7.3%

9.6%

6.4%

3.0%

5.4%

Less than once a month, more than twice a year

2.4%

1.6%

3.3%

3.4%

1.6%

3.1%

2.5%

1.3%

Once or twice a year

2.4%

1.3%

3.3%

1.5%

3.5%

3.6%

2.6%

0.7%

Less than once a year or never

20.0%

14.0%

14.3%

12.4%

16.1%

14.1%

29.0%

45.4%

Total

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

Unweighted sample size:    individuals

2,222

399

325

268

301

295

327

307

Source: Department for Transport, national travel survey

Background information

The Department for Transport publishes a range of walking and cycling rates for adults at the local authority level.  They have also made available this interactive map: http://maps.dft.gov.uk/walking-and-cycling-statistics/.

This short article considers the figures that focus on residents who do any walking or cycling at least once per month. The statistics are official, but not classed as National Statistics.

In this analysis, “walking” refers to any continuous walk of at least ten minutes and covers walking for leisure and travel and rambling or Nordic walking. However, walking around shops, hiking, and mountain/hill walking are excluded.

The definition of “cycling” in this Active Lives Survey refers to cycle rides of any length and covers cycling for leisure and travel, as well as including a number of specific recreational types: BMX, mountain biking, road cycling or racing, track cycling, and cyclo-cross. However, exercise bikes or cycling indoors are excluded.

The estimates for the Lancashire-12 area and for the individual authorities within the Lancashire-14 area are listed in Table 1 along with the North West and England estimate. The results are derived from the Active Lives Survey, which was undertaken by Sport England for the first time from mid-November 2015 to mid-November 2016 collating 199,000 responses from individuals aged 16 and over. The study is designed to achieve a standard sample size of at least 500 responses in most of the local authorities in England and is of the 'push to web survey' type, where potential respondents are contacted by more traditional modes but are encouraged to respond online.

This survey is the successor to the Active People Survey, which was the source of data in these articles in previous years. As some of the methodology has changed (including the age range) it is not recommended for comparisons to be made between the latest and previous results.

The confidence intervals (margins of error) associated with each estimated rate (walking or cycling) have to be taken into account to ascertain if the rate for a particular area is significantly different to the rate for another area in statistical terms. For the rate in one area to be significantly different in statistical terms to another area, there has to be a gap between the upper confidence interval of one area and the lower confidence interval of the comparator area (or vice versa). The identification of improvement or decline over time is also complicated by the confidence intervals. 

As the figures shown in Table 1 are estimates derived from a sample survey, the confidence intervals show the true range of rates that are statistically likely for each authority (when the confidence intervals are applied). For England, which obviously has the largest sample size, the confidence limits are small, extending the central rate by only plus or minus 0.3 percentage points. For Blackburn with Darwen, which has a smaller sample size, the walking rate confidence limits are larger, ±6.8%. This means that the relatively low walking rate shown as 67.2 could actually be as low as 60.4% or as high as 74%, therefore we can be 'confident' that the true value should fall somewhere within that range. In this instance, the Blackburn with Darwen rate is significantly lower than the England rate in statistical terms.

The Active Lives Survey uses the 95% confidence level. This means that there is a 95% chance (19 times out of 20) that confidence intervals cover the true, underlying population mean. The 95% confidence level is the most commonly used confidence level in social research. The extent of the confidence intervals is the range in which the true figure will fall if the whole population was interviewed.

The period of time covered by this report is not the same as the financial year, 2015/16, but ends mid November 2016, so the period is similar to the 2016 calendar year.

Further analysis and information

Walking and cycling statistics, 2016 (PDF 619 KB)

Readers may also be interested in Sport England's Active Lives Survey and the Department for Transport's National Travel Survey.

Page updated March 2018