England active travel numbers going in the wrong direction


New official statistics have highlighted the challenge facing ministers in increasing active travel, with the distance people in England walked and cycled both falling last year.

The Department for Transport has published Walking and Cycling Statistics, England: 2019, based on the National Travel Survey (NTS) and the Active Lives Survey.

Last year people in England walked an average of 205 miles, down from 210 the previous year. The number of ‘stages’ walked also fell from 347 in 2018 to 332.

More than two-thirds (71%) of adults in England walked at least once a week.

Nearly all (98%) local authorities had at least 60% of their adult population walking at least once a week. Officials said this was broadly similar to the previous year.

While the number of stages cycled in 2019 was the same as 2018, the average distance cycled fell from 58 to 54 miles.

Officials said the average number of miles cycled has generally increased over time. However, last year’s average mileage was only marginally higher than 2015 (53 miles).


According to the NTS, walking represented 26% of all trips made but only 3% of all distance travelled.

Unsurprisingly cycling got people relatively further for the (smaller) number of trips, constituting 1% of all distance travelled for just 2% of all trips made.

A quarter (24%) of walking trips are for just walking, while a fifth (21%) of walking trips are for education or escorting or accompanying children to school.


More than a third (36%) of cycling trips are for commuting/business, while a similar proportion (34%) are for leisure purposes, such as to visit friends, entertainment, sport, holiday and for day trips.

In 2019, women on average made 15% more walking trips than men but men made three times more cycle trips than women (24 trips compared to 8 trips).

Register now for full access

Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

comments powered by Disqus