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Cycling v motoring in Britain, 1949-2010 | by Jack Thurston
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Cycling v motoring in Britain, 1949-2010

This graph shows the average distance travelled per person by bicycle and by car (or taxi) from 1949 to 2010.


This is the period of the Great Extinction of cycling.


This graph shows that the average amount of cycling per head of population has fallen by 84 per cent, from 300 miles a year in 1949 to to around 50 miles a year in 2010.


This averaging masks the fact that many people, even in the 1950s, didn't cycle, so it would be wrong to assume that these milages were in any way typical of the population at an individual level.


But it gives a very good indication of the amount of cycling taking place over this time period, adjusted for population.


Meanwhile, we can see the enormous increase in the amount of car travel, though there is a slight decrease in the past couple of years. Whether this is long term downturn or a one-off decrease like that caused by the oil price increases of the early 1970s, or in the late 1980s, it is impossible to tell.


Data source: Dept of Transport :


Road traffic (vehicle miles) by vehicle type in Great Britain, annual from 1949 to 2010


Population data from ONS and Census

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Uploaded on April 11, 2012