- It is being claimed that Active Travel is lower in people of White British origin compared with those of Afro-Caribbean or Asian origin.
- The basis of these claims is data from the Active People Survey.
- Other, better-designed, surveys indicate that the white British grouping actually does more active travel than other groups.
- It is important that we do not design programmes to increase active travel that focus on the wrong people.
- All ethnic groups need to be encouraged to increase their active travel.
- For cycling particular incentives need to be devised to get a higher proportion of Black and Asian groups into active travel by bike.
In the recent report on “Active Travel in Southwark 2017 - The health economic impact of walking and cycling (Southwark’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment)” it was stated “People from White British ethnicity are least likely to take up active travel”. This information was going to play a part in targeting Southwark’s efforts to increase active travel. The source of this statement was a publication by the Dept for Transport, Local Area Walking and Cycling Statistics: England, 2014/15. In turn, this data was derived from the Active People Survey (APS) conducted by Sport England.
National Travel Survey (NTS)
This is the Dept of Transport’s annual survey of approximately 15000 individuals. The focus is on trips made for “transport” reasons. The proportions cycling once per month are much higher than the “Utility” data shown above from the AP Survey. This may be because the NTS sets broader criteria for transport riding than the APS did for “utility” riding.
The NTS data shows cycling in both black and Asian groups is well below the level in the white group. The pattern in London is the same as for Great Britain as a whole.
This is a household interview survey carried out by Transport for London. 8000 face-to-face interviews are carried out each year, and interviewees also fill out a 1 day travel diary. All travel is covered, but leisure trips only account for 25% of the total, so the data represents largely “utility” cycling.
Analysis of trip mode shares gives the clearest indication of relative amounts cycing and walking done by different ethnic groups. Data was available for 9 years, 2005-2013.
The situation for walking is different. Walking trip rates are much more stable over time and differ little between ethnic groups
Why is the Active People Survey so out of line?
The Active People Survey is a random digit phone survey. This gives large numbers, but depends on reaching people via land lines. Large segments of the population have no land line, for example many young people. The APS survey team will try to compensate for this, but they have never published their method for doing so. As land lines have become less used, this problem can only have become more difficult to deal with. This methodology has in fact now been abandoned and a postal/internet survey with a proper population sample, Active Lives, has replaced the APS.
The other problem is with the question. Many people will find it difficult to distinguish “utility” from “leisure” cycling. It is notable that if you combine the APS data on utility and leisure cycling you end up with a situation closer to the other surveys.
The idea that white British are the ethnic group to target to increase active travel is clearly wrong. All ethnic groups need to be encouraged to increase their active travel. And for cycling particular incentives need to be devised to get a higher proportion of Black and Asian (and probably some other minorities) into active travel by bike.
Downloadable copy of above blog in Word format below