Is Bristol shifting to more sustainable and eco-friendly modes of transport for the daily commute? The latest findings from the 2015 edition of the Quality of Life survey indicates so, with the data suggesting that Bristolians seem to have changed their habits when it comes to getting work.

Indeed, the survey results show that Bristol has become greener, opting for more eco-friendly modes of transport over the last seven years. For example, in 2009, more than half of Bristolians (54%) drove their car to work. Although driving is still the preferred way to get to work for four in ten (41%) residents, other means of commuting are becoming more and more popular.

The reduction of car usage over the last few years has been counterbalanced with a rise in the number of Bristolians who choose to walk, cycle or take the bus to get to work. For example, the number of people catching a bus increased from 9% to 12% in the last five years, with residents in Filwood (27%), Horfield (21%) and Kingsweston (20%) most likely to jump aboard. Walking, too, has seen an increase with around one fifth (20%) of the city’s residents choosing a quick stroll to the office – unsurprisingly, perhaps, people living in Cabot are more likely to walk to work than other residents. The biggest increase, however, has been in cycling and today, more people ride their bike to work in Bristol than Sheffield, Nottingham, Newcastle and Liverpool combined. The popularity of cycling rose to 16% in 2014 – up from 9% in 2009 – but residents in Bishopston (36%), Ashley (34%) and Henleaze (27%) are far more likely than the average Bristolian to choose their bike.

While the daily commute has taken other forms over the last few years, we know that jumping in the car is still the most used way of getting to work. The highest percentage of drivers come from the peripheral areas of the city such as Whitchurch Park (68%), Henbury (67%) and Stoke Bishop (65%), where more than six residents in ten take the car to go to work. On the other hand, more central areas such as Lawrence Hill (21%), Southville (19%) and Cabot (13%) all have lower than average car usage for the daily commute.


Different districts, then, have very varied methods of getting to and from work. But what about the profile of commuters and does this make a difference to the method of transport chosen? Looking at driving in particular, the data published in the State of Bristol report 2015 suggests that the majority of people in employment and under the age of forty appear to prefer other means of transport over taking the car, with more than half (56%) of this demographic choosing another way to commute. On the contrary, people who work as carers (49%) and older citizens (48%) are more likely to drive.

Bristolians who go to work (as driver) by car

At at time when the city is struggling to reduce road traffic and air pollution, it’s reassuring to see that Bristol’s residents are increasingly opting for more greener, eco-friendly alternatives to the car. Not only will the environment benefit from this shift, but so too will the city’s pocket – traffic congestion is currently costing Bristol £600million per year, so the more people donning their walking shoes for the morning commute, the better.

Sources: State of Bristol 2015
Open Data Bristol


Simone Grassi, Bristol Is Open