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19 years of London versus traffic congestion

traffic congestion
Photo by Mariana Martin on Unsplash

Every two years since 1999, the City of London has conducted a survey on the number and types of vehicles using the city’s streets. In 2017, for the first time, pedestrian counts were included. All the data has now been compiled into a report, Traffic in the City 2018.

In addition to being a snapshot of how people are getting around now, the long-running nature of the report also offers terrific insight into historical change, and the drivers of those changes.

In 1999, the survey counted 206,000 vehicles using the city’s streets. In 2017 the number has reduced to a little under 124,000. Rather than a gradual decline, there have been downward spikes in the numbers, in the years 2003, 2008, and 2016. What happened in those three years? The following three events:

  • Congestion Charge Zone (2003)
  • Global Recession (2008)
  • Introduction of Cycle Superhighways (2016)

The first and third events in this list resulted in the biggest drops, with the cycle superhighways responsible for the biggest single reduction. Indeed, cycling has been the success story of London transport, with a 292 percent increase in people cycling in the city since 1999.

The report also makes note of what modes of transport are doing all the heavy lifting in the city:

  • “People on foot also made up an estimated 9 percent of total street space usage while making up an estimated one-half of total people movements. This suggests that the City’s pavements – which often make up less than 25 percent of total street space – move the majority of people travelling on City streets.”
  • “While buses only made up two percent of all counted vehicles, they carried an estimated 19 percent of all people travelling on City streets.”

What takes the majority of available street space?

“Private vehicles – cars, taxis, and motorcycles/mopeds – utilised the most street space of any mode – over 53 percent – while only carrying an estimated quarter of all people travelling on City streets.”

Download the report

Data from this study will be added to the dataset used to inform the Transport Strategy for the City of London, due for release in “Spring 2019”.

Click the button here to download a copy of the City of London’s Traffic in the City 2018 report.

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