Southwark council's cheap bike loan scheme is not found by searching the Southwark web site or the site of Cycle Confident who run the scheme. This is very puzzling. This is a very good scheme for getting people started or restarted in cycling. Please let us know your experience with the scheme by Commenting on this blog post.
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.
My understanding from other surveys of cycling and walking was that across the main ethic groupings, there was a higher proportion of cyclists in the white grouping and about the same walking rate across all groups. My concern was that the Active People Survey data might be unreliable, yet was likely to guide policy. This report re-examines at data from other surveys. The opportunity was also taken to look at London and Southwark, not just the national picture.
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.
London Travel Demand Survey (LTDS)
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.
Trip rate for the white British group is 3 to 4 times higher than for black or Asian groupings. This was true for Inner London and for Southwark. Data for Asians in Southwark is not plotted as the sample was too small.
The situation for walking is different. Walking trip rates are much more stable over time and differ little between ethnic groups
Census 2011 The census asks everyone about their main mode of transport to work.
Obviously transport to work is “utility”. The same pattern emerges as is seen in the NTS and LTDS. Cycling in the white British ethnic group is about 3 times the level in Asian or black ethnic groups. This is true at local, Southwark, level and at national level. Walking is more uniform, but there is still a clear trend for white British to walk to work more than Asian or black 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
I run short "healthy rides" for Southwark Cyclists. Have a background in exercise science.