New research has revealed that we're wedded to our cars for the daily commute. Almost half of all workers (48%) always drive to work, compared to just 12% who catch a bus and 11% who walk. A third of people admit they are too dependent on the car, but it doesn't seem as if we're ready to do anything about it - because when asked how they would complete a journey of just one mile - 47% of people said they'd take the car.
But is our dependence on the car an expensive mistake or a canny way to save money?
Laziest commutersThe figures emerged in a survey for GoCompare. It found that the cities with the worst offenders were Birmingham, Wakefield and Liverpool - where 58% of people take the car to work. This was followed by Cardiff where 55% of people commute by car, then Sheffield, Manchester and Bristol, where 47% of people drive.
Meanwhile, Bristol emerged as the city with the most walkers (19%) - followed by Leicester (18%), Sheffield (17%) and Leeds (16%). Those with the fewest walkers were London and Manchester (6%).
Bristol was also home to the most cycle commuters - and at 11% was streets ahead of the other areas where none peaked above 5%.
London was home to the most train or tube travel (12%), followed by Manchester (9%), and Leeds, Glasgow, and Liverpool (6%).
Overall 48% usually drive to work - compared with 12% catching a bus, 11% walking, 5% taking a train, tram or underground, and 2% cycling.
Why?When asked why they drove, almost a third of people (32%) said public transport wasn't available for their journey. Clearly the practicalities have an impact, because where a city's catchment area is relatively wide and sparsely populated, public transport is less likely to suit commuters. With that in mind these bare figures don't tell the whole story.
So the researchers asked people how they would travel if they needed to travel just one mile. Again overwhelmingly the car was the most popular way to travel - with 47% of people taking this method and only 38% of people saying they would walk.
Costly?The question is whether this saves us money or costs us dear. We reported in April this year that public transport could be the most expensive option. Those who drive to work calculated that on average they spent £90 a month on travel costs to and from work. Meanwhile those who used any kind of public transport said they spent £110.
However, those people were just looking at petrol and parking: they didn't consider things like insurance and tax and the depreciation on their car. A study by thinkmoney.co.uk last year factored all this in and compared the cost of an annual rail season ticket with the cost of owning and travelling by car on eight key commuter routes. They found that a typical rail commuter pays £2,440 a year, compared with around £4,800 for a typical Ford Focus driver.
The difference in the results can be explained by the fact that the authors of the survey claiming cars were cheaper argued that you had the car anyway, so were already paying for insurance and tax, so this shouldn't be included. However, GoCompare points out that this isn't necessarily the case.
Tom Lewis, spokesman from Gocompare.com Car Insurance commented: " If you commute to work by car you need to make sure you tell your insurer because your premium will be partly based on the journeys you undertake. Social, domestic and pleasure usage is usually the cheapest level of car insurance cover, it insures the drivers named on the policy for normal day-to-day motoring including trips to the shops, visiting friends and family or going to the seaside. However, this category doesn't usually include commuting. If you commute by car, you're likely to pay more for cover as you'll be driving more at peak times when the roads are busy – increasing the likelihood of an accident."
He adds: "People who drive to the station and continue their journey by train can also be considered to be using their car to commute because by leaving their car in a public place it is at greater risk from theft or damage. So, even if you use your car for just part of your commute - you need to make sure that your car insurance covers you to do so, otherwise you might invalidate your policy. Non-commuters generally pay less for their car insurance because, by avoiding the rush hour, they tend to make fewer claims."
The question is whether you are likely to be convinced by the maths - or whether nothing on earth would tempt you away from the comfort of the car.