Walking and cycling

Summary

Based on the 2018 Active Lives Survey, a total of 76.2% of residents in the Lancashire-12 area were estimated to have had one or more continuous walks for at least 10 minutes over the previous month. This compares with the figure of 78.2% for England, and is significantly lower than this. As well as Lancashire, the North West region, Pendle, Hyndburn, Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen and Burnley had walking rates significantly lower than the national rate. From the low walking rates for these we see that over 30% of adults in Pendle, Hyndburn and Blackpool took no 10 minute walks during the preceding month, according to the survey. These authorities were ranked in 2nd, 3rd and 7th lowest places respectively in England. There were no Lancashire authorities significantly above the England figure, but three, Preston, Ribble Valley and Wyre had rates matching England.

Only two Lancashire authorities, Lancaster and Fylde, were estimated to have cycling rates that were slightly ahead of the national average of 16.2 but not significantly so. The Lancashire-12 area, the North West region and four of the Lancashire-12 authorities, plus both of the unitary authorities, were significantly below the England figure. Once again Preston had a rate the same as England, while South Ribble was fractionally lower. Cycling rates fell below 10% in the East Lancashire authorities of Burnley, Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale.

Introduction 

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/ for the 2015/16 period.

This article considers the figures that focus on residents who do any walking or any cycling at least once per month. Walking is classified as referring to any continuous walk of at least 10 minutes, irrespective of purpose. The cycling results refer to cycling irrespective of length or purpose. The estimates are sourced from the Active Lives Survey, 2018.

As the figures are estimates the confidence intervals help to understand the true range that most of that authorities would fall into. For England, which obviously has the largest sample size, the confidence limits are only plus or minus 0.3%. For Pendle, the walking rate confidence limits are ±6.0%. This means that the very low walking rate shown as 65.4% could actually be as low as 59.3% or as high as 71.5%, therefore we can be 'confident' that the true value should fall somewhere within that range.

The period of time covered by this report is not the same as the financial year, 2017/18, but ends mid November 2018, so the period is very largely similar to the 2018 calendar year.

Key points

Walking

The figures highlight the fact that there is an important minority that state that they do not undertake a continuous walk each month of at least 10 minutes. For the Lancashire-12 area, this equated to 23.8% of interviewees, and rose to 34.6% in Pendle.

Table 1 shows the proportions and confidence intervals. Lancaster and Fylde, at 81.3% and 81.2% respectively, were the only Lancashire authorities with an estimated walking rate above 80%. A graph, Figure 1, showing the confidence intervals can be seen near to the end of this article. There are no Lancashire authorities significantly above the England rate. Out of 327 English local authorities, Lancaster was only 99th highest. This being the third year that these results were derived from the Active Lives Survey, comparisons with both of the previous periods are indicated and a significant decrease from 2016/17 for Lancaster is shown in Table 1. The North West region and England both have significant increases from 2015/16 flagged. All areas having significantly lower walking rates than the England rate have data bars shaded red in Figure 1. Pendle had the 2nd lowest, Hyndburn the 3rd lowest and Blackpool the 7th lowest walking rates in England.

Cycling

Four Lancashire authorities were estimated to have cycling rates that were slightly ahead of the national average of 16.9%. Fylde recorded a decent 18.7%, but Figure 2 shows that no Lancashire authority has a cycling rate significantly above England. The six authorities, plus Lancashire-12 and the North West region, with bars shaded red are significantly below the England rate. Lancaster, which in 2015/16 had a cycling rate significantly above the England rate, has, along with Blackpool, a significant decrease flagged from 2015/16 in the latest year's figures. Significant year to year changes for England and regions are more likely to be flagged, as they have much smaller confidence intervals than districts.

Table 1. Residents who walk or cycle at least once per month (2017/18)

  Walk % Confidence intervals (walking) * Significant change/s in walking rate Cycle % Confidence intervals (cycling) * Significant change/s in cycling rate
Burnley  71.1  ±5.0   7.3  ±3.1  
Chorley 77.0  ±4.9   15.7  ±4.3  
Fylde 81.2  ±4.3    14.5  ±3.9  
Hyndburn 65.9  ±5.5 Decrease from 2016/17 9.6  ±3.4  
Lancaster 81.3  ±4.6 Decrease from 2016/17 17.0  ±4.4 Decrease from 2015/16
Pendle 65.4  ±6.1 Decrease from 2015/16 and 2016/17 9.0  ±3.0  
Preston 78.2  ±4.6    16.2  ±4.4  
Ribble Valley  78.2  ±4.3   14.4  ±3.9  
Rossendale  76.8  ±5.2    9.7  ±3.9  
South Ribble  77.9  ±4.5    16.1  ±3.8  
West Lancashire  76.7  ±4.7    13.2  ±4.2  
Wyre  78.2  ±4.4 Increase from 2015/16  17.4  ±4.4  
Lancashire-12  76.2  ±1.4    13.9  ±1.2  
Blackburn with Darwen  70.1  ±5.3    7.9  ±2.9  
Blackpool 68.0  ±5.3    11.8  ±3.9 Decrease from 2015/16
North West 76.3 ±0.7 Increase from 2015/16 13.8 ±0.6 Decrease from 2016/17
England 78.2 ±0.3 Increase from 2015/16 16.1 ±0.3 Decrease from 2015/16 and 2016/17

*Note: 95% confidence intervals

Source: Department of Transport figures from Active Lives Survey – Sport England. Walking and cycling statistics, 2018, table CW0303 (walking) and table CW0302 (cycling).

Cycling rates varied across Lancashire, and were below 10% in the East Lancashire authorities of Burnley, Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale. The estimates for Burnley and Blackburn with Darwen of 7.3% and 7.9% respectively puts them at 5th and 8th lowest respectively in the country and when the confidence intervals are subtracted from the estimated rate, we can presume that the lowest probable cycling rates in these authorities are as low as 4.2% and 5.1% respectively.

The highest rate in England was in Cambridge, which recorded a value of 63.7%. At 43.4% Oxford was second.

Figure 1. Walking rates with confidence intervals

Figure 1. box chart of walking rates. Key = '% of adults walking for 10 minutes at least once a month (with confidence limits)'. Shows that Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool are significantly below the England rate, as is the Lancashire-12 area as a whole. Other districts are not significantly different to England

Note: 95% confidence intervals

Source: Walking and cycling statistics, England, 2018, Department for Transport/Sport England - table CW0303

Figure 2. Cycling rates with confidence intervals

Figure 2. Box chart of cycling rates. Key = '% of adults cycling at least once a month (with confidence limits)'. Shows that Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool are significantly below the England rate, as is the Lancashire-12 area as a whole. Other districts are not significantly different to England

 

Note: 95% confidence intervals 

Source: Walking and cycling statistics, England, 2018, Department for Transport/Sport England - table CW0302

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. The analysis of these figures can be seen in the attached document.

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: 360 million vehicle miles, of which 160 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 2018. The statistics date back to 1993 and were fairly static until around 2000 but became more fluid until 2011 and from there on and have been around 150 to 170 millions.

Additional walking and 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.

As a part of implementing the National Planning Policy Framework regarding spatial planning, Lancashire County Council has produced advisory notes on public health which relate to the lifestyle topics of physical activity, food and drink and obesity. 

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.  

Background information

The results are derived from the Active Lives Survey, which was undertaken by Sport England for the first time from November 2015 to November 2016 collating responses from individuals aged 16 and over. The target sample size is just under 200,000. 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 successor to the Active People Survey, which was the source for data in these articles for previous years.

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 statistics are official, but not classed as National Statistics.

Further analysis and information

Age-specific rates of walking, 2010-2014 (PDF 102 KB)

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

Page updated September 2019