Department for Transport (DfT) modelling suggests that over the course of the next 25 years, commuters will ditch bikes and public transport and instead get behind the wheel. All modes of transport are forecast to drop in popularity by 2040 except for cars.
In 2015, Britons made on average 22.1 journeys by bike, but this is predicted to drop to 20.5 by 2040, while the number of bus trips is predicted to fall by about a quarter.
In contrast, car journeys are forecast to rise from 2015’s 453.4 journeys to 503.9 a year – and despite this greater car us, it is also predicted that fewer trips will be made as a passenger in a car. Single occupancy car journeys would therefore appear to be the future – at least according to the DfT.
The figures do not account for the Department's Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, which was still in development when the forecasts were made.
Nevertheless, shadow transport secretary Lillian Greenwood told The Times: “Ministers claim that they will double cycling journeys by 2025 but their own projections predict that cycling will tail off. It's now clearer than ever that plans to cut walking and cycling funding by over 70 per cent will hasten this decline and lead to even more cars on congested and poorly maintained roads.”
The DfT said: "We want more people to switch to public transport and are investing a record £61bn to deliver the transport connections of the future."
That figure includes a commitment to £300m-worth of cycling investment. £15bn of the money will be allocated to the Strategic Road Network, the nation’s network of motorways and A-roads.
Last month, the DfT reported a nine per cent decline in bicycle usage last year – a drop of about 300 million miles travelled by bike compared to 2014. At the time, the DfT said that this was a statistical blip masking an almost continuous annual increase.
The fall also coincided with a record number of vehicles on British roads, with 316.7bn traffic miles logged in 2015 – a rise of 1.6 per cent compared to 2014. Provisional estimates for the 12-months up until March 2016 indicated a further rise to 318.5bn vehicle miles in that period.