How has our habits of travel changed in the last fifty years
We are prone to believe that our travel habits are significantly different from how it was a century ago. We are able to access modern transportation methods, and we are expected to be able to move swiftly and conveniently at any time we’d like. However, an recent review of travel habits in England commemorating 50 years of information taken from the National Travel Survey (NTS) illustrates that although some aspects have changed, a lot is the same.
According to the report’s authors the most striking shift in our habits of travel can be seen in the fact the fact that “we are travelling further but not more often”. This means that even though the travel trips we take are more in distance, the amount of days we travel has been similar over the last fifty years. Furthermore, there has been no variation in the amount of time we travel due to the increased speed at which we travel. Our motives for our travels have only changed little: the most significant change is increasing the amount of trips that we use to assist other passengers.
We’ve noticed an increase in vehicle use due to their accessibility and their affordability. A decrease follows this in trips by bus and bicycle. These trends won’t be shocking to any person who’s thought about the way we transport in Britain. However, if we look at the survey data, a few more obscure patterns and trends are uncovered.
While the NTS is an unrivaled collection of information, it isn’t without its flaws. The authors acknowledge that walking excursions are often unrecorded, and it’s impossible to collect comparable information about walking as a mode of daily travel for the entire 50 years. However, what is certain is that our feet remain one of the most significant modes of transportation.
According to the study, the survey found that 22% of journeys were on foot, and walking made up 76 percent of all trips less than one mile. Although we are less active than we used to in the past, the walking route remains an essential mode of transport, yet it is often overlooked in official statistics as well as transportation planning. All too often, pedestrians’ needs pedestrians for are not considered.
The figures are missing. gari.baldi/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND
Although there might not be information that extends beyond the 50 years of coverage by the NTS, It is nevertheless possible to gain insights into the longer-term trends in travel through oral histories and survey methods. Studies using these techniques indicate that the amount of distance and time spent traveling has remained relatively stable throughout the last century and possibly even beyond.
In the past, most trips were for short distances and the length of time people are willing to travel remains the same. Naturally, more efficient forms of transportation, including private vehicles, allow more distances covered, and there are more long trips than there were in the past; however, for the vast majority of people, the majority of the time, daily travel is relatively close to home.
Home, sweet home
Why are travel trends the same over such long spans of time? The answer to this question will surely lie in the character of human interactions and the society in which we live, which statistics cannot discover. Human clubs throughout time seek to fulfill certain goals that include providing an income, food and shelter; be close to and secure family as well as to socialize and be with their friends. The majority of these needs and desires can be fulfilled near home, which is why they influence our lifestyles when traveling.
Certainly, as f, as amilies have become increasingly dispersed, and the mobility of workers has risen, it has resulted in some traveling longer distances. However, the majority of us still have the ability (and actually prefer) to meet the majority of our daily needs close to home.
Another aspect that data like the NTS can’t provide is the experiences of traveling. What are the experiences of travel in the present, and how is this changing in the past? Perhaps, this is an aspect that has experienced substantial change. The rise and popularity of the private vehicle has led to safe, comfortable and secure transportation has become a standard for the majority of people.
The past century was when only elite travelers could travel in the comfort of their homes, taking shared spaces on different types of public transportation. For those who bike or walk and cycle, their experience has not changed much, but the increase in traffic may have caused the journey to be less enjoyable for many.
A half century of NTS is a reminder of the importance of travel in our lives and challenges the notion that daily mobility has drastically changed over the years. However, it also demonstrates that when it comes to the things that are most important to us, certain things are never changed.