NTM cycling statistics used as fact

BikeBiz reported that cycling charity CTC has uncovered the Government is using statistical assumptions to lead its spending decisions on roads and cycle infrastructure.

The National Transport Model (NTM) has the difficult task of examining potential demand for transport in relation to growing population, oil price, increasing average age of the population, etc. It’s the NTM that foresees a 43% increase in levels of car use by 2040.

The CTC says the NTM is used as a guide to what might happen, but is being treated by policy makers as an ‘inevitable outcome’ that must be prepared for, potentially scotching increased spending on cycling.

The CTC’s Chris Peck explains: “This is the ‘predict and provide’ approach that, in essence, is a self-fulfilling prophecy: your model predicts that car use will continue untrammelled, and further predicts huge congestion problems that might result. So, in order to prevent that congestion, you build new roads and plan new developments around everyone driving for two thirds of their trips and, decades later, hey presto: that’s what happens!”

While cycle trip lengths have been found to increase by 50% over the last 10years (2.2 miles to 3.3 miles), the NTM predicts the trend will reverse, with cycle trip length falling over the next two decades (as will walking). Car and bus journeys will rise though, apparently. The DfT sees an initial rise in cycle use to 3.4bn miles in 2015 from 2.9bn in 2010, but then to slip back to 3bn in 2025 – a drop that is much more extreme in relation to the expected rise in population.

Leisure PR specialist Michael Bennett of Pelican’s outdoor communications team said: “The CTC makes a powerful case. Whilst cycling as a sport has benefitted massively in recent years, outside of London there has been little growth in the number of people commuting by bike. The DfT should be doing more to encourage cycle commuting as part of a strategy to reduce congestion.”

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