Walking and the cost of car use
Research commissioned by the Department for Transport has found that alternative ways of accessing cars, such as car clubs, have an important part to play in helping people walk more often.
Transport, Physical Activity and Health: Present knowledge and the way ahead, by Professor Roger Mackett and Belinda Brown from the Centre for Transport Studies at University College London, refers to Living Streets' Making the Case for Investment in the Walking Environment in its comprehensive review of the links between transport choices on physical activity and the influence of behavioural factors, the physical environment and perceived barriers on whether people choose to walk or cycle.
A key finding of the research was that measures that helped people take a different view of the economics of car use had a key role to play in promoting the choice to walk. The report pointed out that the average spend per household on the fixed costs of car ownership - insurance, taxation, maintenance and the initial cost of the car itself - was nearly £40 per week; a household that used its car three or four times a week would be paying close to £10 per trip even before fuel costs. Initiatives such as 'pay as you go' car clubs and neighbourhood car rental schemes, where members can rent out their car to others when they aren't using it, can be more cost-effective, helping people think of the car as an option rather than the default choice.
Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive of Living Streets, said, 'It's good to see this research confirming what more and more people in the UK are finding out all the time - that you can get healthier and save money by walking for some of your journeys, while having reliable and cost-effective access to a car when you need it. With polling from the AA indicating that 40 per cent of people are planning to drive either more economically or less frequently this year, there's never been a better time to explore these alternatives and get walking - and if you need an extra push, our Great British Walking Challenge in May could be the perfect opportunity.'