7 million drivers plan to cut down car use for short journeys

Cycling, News, Transport

New research reveals that of the 20 million drivers who regularly use their car for journeys of between one to two miles, some 6.9 million (34%) want to switch to other travel methods.

When asked about their travel over journeys of less than 1.5 miles, almost one in seven car owners (13%) said they want to cycle on more of these trips, while 6% want to make more use of an electric bike.

The study was carried out for Kwik Fit, which has launched a new partnership designed to support those customers switching to active travel modes for short journeys.  The UK’s automotive servicing and repair company, with over 600 centres across the UK, has launched a strategic partnership with Fettle to offer cycle servicing.

Over the past three years, Fettle has built a fast-growing bike repair network, providing ‘faff-free’ repairs and servicing across London.  

Under the new collaboration, the first Fettle at Kwik Fit operation has opened in the Kwik Fit centre in Cheltenham Road, Bristol, with centres in London to follow in the coming weeks and a plan to roll out the partnership to centres across the UK.

While the cost of fuel has been the biggest factor in making the shift, cited by two in five (39%), 30% of drivers switching from a car for short trips say they are doing so to improve their fitness, 26% say the environmental impact of a short car journey is the stimulus, while 17% say it’s because other travel modes are just as fast as taking the car.

Some 44% of car owners also own a bike, or have access to one.  When they were asked what factors put them off using a bike more often for short journeys, the most common deterrents were the weather (32%), safety fears (26%) and the ability to carry loads (25%).

In addition to these factors, 8% say they worry about not being able to fix their bike should it go wrong when they are out. The same proportion (8%) say they are concerned about the condition of their bike, while 7% say they don’t use their bike more often because they don’t think it is roadworthy.

Fettle at Kwik Fit aims to remove these latter barriers by providing bike owners with a variety of clear and transparent servicing and repair options, including a Bicycle MOT.

In addition to supporting pedal cycle owners, Fettle at Kwik Fit will serve the growing number of e-bikes and e-cargo bikes. E-bike sales have risen from 3% of all bikes sold in 2018 to 8% in 2022, and now represent 30% of overall bike sales value, while sales of cargo bikes at some leading retailers rose by 40% last year compared to 2021.

Says Mark Slade, managing director of Kwik Fit:

“This research shows that there are many reasons why drivers are looking for different modes of travel for short journeys, and we can support them through removing some of the barriers when it comes to increased cycle use.  In addition, a growing number of our customers who operate vehicle fleets have been asking if we can support their expanding cargo bike operations, which are increasingly being used for short urban journeys.”

Chris Price
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