Social Trends 39, the latest snapshot of UK life in figures from the government's National Statistics office, has just been published. The data go up to 2007. Many newspapers, and the BBC website, followed the office's press-release headline of 'one-third of men live with their mums', but in the transport section there are several entries about bikes and bike use that are worth downloading the full report (3MB, PDF) for.
* The number of reported stolen bikes was 0.4m in 2007-08 (out of 10.1m reported crimes overall): about the same as the previous three years, compared with 0.2m in 1981 and 0.7m in 1995.
* Car use has more than doubled since 1971 while bike use has stayed the same. Total passenger kilometres travelled by car rose from 313bn in 1971 to 689bn in 2007; the bike figure stayed constant at 4bn. (Bike boom? What bike boom? Maybe it's just a London thing...)
* Over the last dozen years, distance travelled by all forms of transport has stayed about the same, though bike use has dipped a bit and rail use risen noticeably.
* Richer households do three times as much mileage by car as poor households (so it isn't true that more expensive motoring 'hits the poor harder')
* Motoring costs overall have nearly doubled since 1987, with cheaper cars offsetting big rises in tax, insurance and petrol. Rail fares have nearly tripled. They don't give prices for bikes but a rough guess suggests it's cheaper or about the same.
* Since 1981, the chances of a fatal accident by distance travelled has halved for cyclists, walkers and cars. In 2007 the rate of cyclist deaths was 31.5 per billion kilometres, compared with 2.5 for cars, 106.7 for motorbikes, and 35.5 for pedestrians.
So, you can expect to cycle 30m kilometres before a fatal accident. Which means, even cycling everywhere every day, I should be OK for the next 4,000 years.
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