Long-term stability in active modes of travel to work
Duke-Williams, O. (2016) International conference on Transport & Health, San Jose, USA, 13 - 15 June 2016 [ONS LS]
Background: The ONS Longitudinal Study is a linked sample of census data in England and Wales, with census data at decennial intervals from 1971 to 2011, permitting exploration of changes to commuting behaviour over long periods. Identification of groups likely to retain active commuting may make it easier to target campaigns to widen such groups.
Methods: Previous work conducted for internal seminar presentation has looked at stability between different modes of transport to work over a ten year period from 1991 and 2001; this will be extended to include 2001 to 2011 comparisons. Mode of travel to work was compared for sample members who were recorded at both time points (1991 and 2001) and who were in employment or self-employed at both times. For cyclists, the results were disaggregated by age, breaking respondents down in to ten-year age groups.
Results: Of those persons who used a bicycle to travel to work in 1991, 28.5% also used a bicycle to travel to work in 2001. Of those who walked to work in 1991, 33.6% also walked to work in 2001. By comparison, the highest level of stability was for car drivers (78.3%) whilst the lowest level was for motorcycle riders, with 17.3%. Stability of mode was lower for cyclists than for those travelling by car (p<0.0001), by train (p<0.0001), by tube (p=0.04), or on foot (p=0.0007), and no different no those travelling by bus. Cyclists were more likely to retain their mode than those travelling by motorbike (p<0.0001) or as a car passenger (p<0.0001).
For all age groups, a retention rate for cyclists was calculated as the proportion of those persons who had cycled to work in 1991 that also cycled in 2001. This rate rose in successive age groups from 14% of those aged 16-25 in 1991 to 45% of those aged 46-55 in 1991, then fell to 31% of those aged 56+ in 1991.
Conclusions: Cyclists are less likely to maintain their mode of commuting over a ten year period than users of most other methods of transport. Cycle-commuting is typically seen as a phenomenon dominated by younger people. Studying absolute results bears this out, but a different story is told by looking at retention rates: in the four age groups from 16-25 to 46-55 retention rose consistently. Older cyclists are less common than younger cyclists but are more likely to carry on cycling.