A journey of a thousand miles may once have started with a single step but these days it is far more likely to start with a search for the car keys.

According to the Department for Transport’s 2016 figures, 89 per cent of journeys in the UK are made by car or van and 56 per cent of car journeys are for trips under five miles.

While the majority of journeys of a mile or less are walked, 6 per cent of all car journeys are under a mile.

Never mind a thousand miles, this means that a significant proportion of journeys of less than a thousand steps begin with those few steps from the front door to the car door.

Even the most ardent advocate of the car would probably agree that this is a bit daft.

After all, fewer cars on the road would leave more room for them. For the rest of us fewer car journeys would speed public transport, improve the quality of the air we breathe, make our streets safer and more accessible for our kids on the way to school, make walking more accessible and enjoyable, and – yes, let’s admit it – make conditions for cycling slightly better.

So here is a modest proposal: what if every car journey began with 100 footsteps?

Imagine that when you applied for your on-street parking permit the permit you received allowed you to park not in the street that you live in but on the next street along.

Instead of your car being within a few metres of your door it would be 50 or 100 metres a way; perhaps even 250m. You would have to walk for a minute, no more than two, to get to your car to start your journey.

Apart from irritating a few drivers, what would this achieve? Probably not much but for a small proportion of journeys it might just make us think.

Perhaps the car is now further away than your bike.

Perhaps the walk to the shop is now not that much further than the walk to the car.

Perhaps it’s a nice day and it might be quite nice to walk rather than worry about where you are going to park when you get there.

Perhaps the CommonWheels car is now closer than your car and you don’t really need your car at all?

A short walk to start a journey might only prevent a small percentage of car trips but if 6 per cent of all car journeys are under a mile – that’s less than a 15-minute walk for many of us – that could be millions of unnecessary car trips that are clogging our roads, our lungs and our lives.

  • Department for Transport Road Use Statistics Great Britain 2016 www.licencebureau.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/road-use-statistics.pdf