Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Driving in Decline?

The RAC have been out with their clipboards again surveying drivers' opinions.

48% are cutting back on journeys for financial reasons. Four out of 10 rural drivers and 32% of urban ones said they were cutting back on short journeys, while 34% of rural drivers and 23% of urban ones were reducing long trips.

Meanwhile, The Scotsman reports that used car prices are tumbling as people get rid of second cars, or even  their only cars.

So it seems that people are driving less, at the very time Transport for London are assuring us that every spare square inch of Blackfriars Bridge is needed for more traffic lanes.

The RAC's motoring strategist Adrian Tink said,  "UK drivers want action from the Government. They already pay the highest duty and tax on fuel in Europe. At the very least, we are calling for fuel duty to be frozen and scheduled inflationary rises to be scrapped."

It happens that UK petrol prices are not out of line with those in mainland Europe. It's not clear who Mr Tink expects is going to pay for his proposed largesse - effectively it would be a transfer of tax onto those who can't afford or choose not to drive. In any case, over the last couple of weeks we've seen the Brent Crude price oscillate between $110 and $120/bbl, which illustrates how powerless the Government is to do much about the price of fuel. Ordinary people are solving the problem, taking action by driving less, changing their driving style and even getting rid of their cars altogether.

At Cycalogical, we think it would be best to assume that oil is going to get more expensive and plan accordingly, by making it easier for people to use alternative transport options and to live car-free. Otherwise, we'll end up with an oil-dependent economy, vulnerable to oil price fluctuations we cannot control, and each year paying an increasingly larger share of our GDP to unsavoury regimes in the Middle East and North Africa.


  1. True in Newham almost every other car has a "for sale" not on the window... I was thinking about a sticker saying - "Sell it - and get a bike!" to put on those cars.

  2. End up with an oil-dependent economy? Nah - we ARE an oil-dependent economy.

    Curious that urban drivers are less likely to have given up car use than rural ones. There is more space and less congestion in the country, and "short" is a relative thing - we can see from the stats that the half-way point on car distances is shorter in town than in coutry (50% of all car journeys in London less than 2 miles, in the UK as a whole that is 3 miles, and presumably that must mean that in the country, it is rather more than 3 miles to maintain the average.

    The reaon I guess is not that rural dwellers have more viable alternatives such as buses (ha bloody ha) but that urban dwellers are generally richer.