Outer London traffic congestion ‘worse than 2019 levels’

Traffic congestion is currently increasing in London and is now above 2019 levels outside the city centre, new analysis by Environmental Defense Fund Europe (EDF Europe) has found.

The analysis is based on data from the Waze for Cities Programme, from May 2020 onwards.

In the last week, average congestion on roads outside the central London Congestion Charging Zone was 18% higher than last year. The most congested day was 7th September, when congestion was 153% of 2019 levels. This compares to roads within the zone, which were on average last week 55% of 2019 levels, up from the lowest point of 6% recorded on the week commencing 4th May.

Congestion in central London is lower than usual, helped by changes to the Congestion Charge scheme and fewer visitors to the area. However, city centre traffic congestion has seen a steady increase over the past few weeks.

“Traffic congestion is precisely what we should prevent as our polluted city emerges from lockdown,” said Oliver Lord, head of policy and campaigns at EDF Europe. “We need to help people get around without private cars because congestion delays buses, disrupts essential trips and makes it horrible to walk and cycle.

“This analysis is a rallying call for action, including safer streets for cycling instead of driving, more public transport connectivity and a concerted effort from business to curb the record number of vans on our streets.”

Stephen Edwards, director of policy and communications at Living Streets, added: “This concerning data should serve as a warning that the opportunity to embed the health and environmental benefits of fewer vehicles is not lost. Better streets for walking and cycling are better for us all. We must move ahead with schemes to promote these behaviours.”

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