London leads the way in declining car use but the East is bucking the trend

traffic jamTraffic volumes in London have gone down by 7% over the past 10 years despite a rising population in that period.

But the figures for overall decline mask a more complex localised picture with sharp falls in central areas and traffic increasing in the some outer eastern boroughs.

Traffic volume is measured through traffic flow, a calculation of the total number of kilometres covered by all vehicles. The calculations are done by the Department of Transport using data from the National Road Traffic Survey.

The significant decline in traffic flow is unique to London as only 3 other regions have seen modest falls and most have seen a growth.

Traffic flow change

The reduction is due to a 9% fall in car traffic while flows of other vehicles have increased by 2%. This reduced reliance on cars is in line with the falling ownership figures, particularly in central areas, as reported by Urbs.

The reduction in traffic flows is a long-term trend that has been steady since 1999 and does not appear to have been affected by the introduction of the congestion charge.

Traffic flow trend

But last year saw a slight reversal with all vehicle flows up by 2%. Growing car traffic in East London played a part in this with increases of 10% in Waltham Forest and 6% in Redbridge.

Looking at the figures over 10 years, Redbridge along with Barking and Dagenham have seen the biggest increase in traffic flow, but the numbers are up across a swathe on North East London.

Traffic flows map

Elsewhere the numbers are falling with big declines in central areas led by 22% in Camden, but significant falls in outer areas such as 12% in Sutton and 11% in Croydon.

Source data

See also

Staying healthy and getting there easily prompts Londoners to go on foot

Car ownership reveals a tale of 2 Londons

Nearly 9,500 deaths a year – study reveals impact of air pollution

Police identify the most ignored red light with 1,500 drivers caught on camera

Traffic_Light_red By Numb631 CC BY-SA 4.0 Wikimedia Commons-2

Photo: Traffic Light Red by Numb631┃Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

More people were caught driving through the traffic lights on red at the junction of Camberwell Church Street and Denmark Hill in Southwark than any other light in London.

Last year more 1,538 vehicles ran the light and were caught on camera by the police. The light jumpers included 917 cars, 143 vans, 38 lorries and 38 motorbikes and 15 buses. The offenders also included 387 emergency vehicles, which may be due to the proximity to Kings College Hospital.

If emergency vehicles are discounted, as they may have an understandable reason for going through a red traffic light, then the junction with the worst record is the Bath Road junction with The Avenue in Hounslow, West London.

This also saw a little over 1,500 offenders snapped by the automatic camera, but there were far fewer emergency vehicles. 1,149 cars ran this red light in 2014, joined by 101 vans, 27 lorries, 27 motorcycles, and 25 buses.

The data on the cameras catching most offenders is revealed by the Metropolitan Police in a response to a Freedom of Information request.

Of the top 10, 4 were in West London, 3 in South London and 3 in North London. East London drivers seem to be more law abiding in waiting for the lights to change.

Here are the 10 most ignored lights with links to Google Streetview if you care to check out the junctions where you should take extra care.

South London

 West London

North London

Most people caught on camera going through a red light are given a fixed penalty notice which results in a fine of £60 and 3 penalty points on their licence.

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See also

Road deaths and serious injuries down but pedestrians remain most at risk

Road disruption doubles but most journeys avoid the worse jams

Traffic constant, profits up – a congestion charge story

Where 22,000 cars were stolen in the capital last year

42 pedestrians and cyclists injured each week by hit and run drivers

bikesMore than 1,200 pedestrians and over 1,000 cyclists were injured by hit and run drivers in London last year. The figures include 6 deaths – 4 people on foot and 2 on bikes.

This means that a fifth of all injuries to pedestrians and cyclists in 2014 were caused by drivers who didn’t stop. This equates to 6 people a day, or 42 each week and is an increase of 16% in pedestrian injured in hit and run incidents and a 13% rise for cyclists, compared to 2013.

Overall the number of hit and run collisions, including cars, fell marginally last year from 4,154 to 4,049. The figures were revealed in a written answer from the Mayor, Boris Johnson, to Green Party London Assembly Member Jenny Jones.

Hit and run injuries 2014
Fatal Serious Slight Total
Pedestrian 4 132 1,076 1,212
Cyclist 2 91 921 1,014
Car 0 24 1,799 1,823

As the figures show, pedestrians and cyclists are far more vulnerable to death and serious injury.

Jenny Jones said: “There are far too many arrogant drivers who think they can get away with injuring someone, just as they think they can get away with breaking the rules on speeding, jumping red lights and using mobile phones.”

As previously reported by Urbs, fewer people were killed or seriously injured overall on the capital’s road last year. But injuries to cyclists were up. The GLA benchmarks road safety figures against the average for the years 2005-09. On this measure deaths and serious injuries to cyclists were up by 3% and minor injuries by 73% last year. TfL points out that since 2005 there has been a 92% increase in the number of journeys taken by bike.

See also

Road deaths and serious injuries down but pedestrians remain most at risk

Pedestrians and cyclists push Westminster to top of road injuries list

Nearly 9,500 deaths a year – study reveals impact of air pollution

Car ownership reveals a tale of 2 Londons

© Micka | - Heavy Traffic In Central London Photo-2

Photo: © Micka |

Car ownership has crept back up again in London in the past 12 months after falling for 5 successive years. But the longer term trend is down and a tale of two Londons – inner and outer – is emerging in Londoners’ relationship with cars.

Data from the Department of Transport shows that 2.71 million private or lights good vehicles were licensed in London last year. That is down from a peak of 2.76 million in 2008. Total car ownership in the capital then fell each year until last year, perhaps driven by the financial crisis.

Last year numbers nudged up in all but 3 boroughs (Camden, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea) but the trend in inner London boroughs shows a significant drop between 2008-2014. In Wandsworth the number of licensed vehicles fell by 21% and in Hackney and Islington by 9%.

Urbs has used the data to calculate car density across the capital and an inner/outer London difference emerges very clearly. Total numbers for 2014 equate to 31 cars for every 100 residents, or roughly 1 car for every 3 people.

But in all the boroughs defined as inner London, which have seen the greatest population growth, the ratio of cars to people is lower. In many of the outer boroughs it is considerably higher.

car ownership

In Tower Hamlets and Hackney there are 15 cars per 100 people. The availability of public transport and taxi service compared to the inconvenience of having a car in the centre of the city with limited or high costs parking may be significant factors.

In Harrow in the west and Havering in the east ownership is 3 times that level with 49 cars per 100 people. The below average availability of public transport, as reported by Urbs, may mean that people in outer areas still rely on owning a car.

Source data

See also:

Traffic constant, profits up – a congestion charge story

Availability of public transport below average in all outer boroughs

Road deaths and serious injuries down but pedestrians remain most at risk


Pedestrians and cyclists push Westminster to top of road injuries list

Westminster pedestriansPedestrians and pedal cyclists were the biggest groups of people to suffer injuries on the roads in Westminster in 2014, pushing the central borough to the top for rates of casualties.

Westminster was one of 15 of the 33 boroughs (including the City of London) that recorded more than 1,000 casualties in 2014, according to figures from TfL. Westminster recorded more than 1,800 casualties including 469 pedestrians and 457 cyclists. The second highest level was in Lambeth, where cyclists were the largest group suffering injuries.

Road casuatles all

Car passengers dominated the high rates of total casualties in the outer boroughs of Ealing and Barnet. Both boroughs are crossed by major roads – the M1 and A1 in Barnet and the M40 in Ealing. Lowest casualty rates were in the outer boroughs of Sutton, Kingston and Bexley.

While overall casualty rates were up, the numbers killed or seriously injured in 2014 were down by 7% year-on-year, as previously reported by Urbs. Westminster and Lambeth recorded the highest rates for serious accidents. Barnet had the same rate as Lambeth, with 98 fatalities or serious injuries.

Road deaths

Looking at fatalities alone, Westminster had 6, Barnet 5, and Lambeth 9. There were 9 road deaths in Croydon too. Only Wandsworth had no deaths on the roads in the year.

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See also

Road deaths and serious injuries down but pedestrians remain most at risk

Road disruption doubles but most journeys avoid the worse jams



Road disruption doubles but most journeys avoid the worse jams

hThe number of hours of traffic disruption each day on London’s streets has nearly doubled in the past two years.  And the trend is continuing, with February this year showing the highest level of daily disruption.

Transport for London releases monthly data for serious and severe disruption on the road network.  Serious is defined as congestion that is unusual at a time of day or location when the delay is less than 5 minutes when traffic lights are not on red.  Severe is defined as delays over 5 minutes.

Urbs calculated the average daily hours of disruption.  Our analysis reveals that the daily average across the network in 2012 and 2013 was 5 to 6 hours.  In the past 12 months it was nearly 10 hours a day, and was as high as 13 hours a day in February.

Road disruption

Much of the disruption is caused by planned road works. TFL points to the Hammersmith Flyover, the North Circular and Lower Thames Street as examples of major projects that have increased the hours of congestion.  But unplanned disruptions have also increased with substantial incidents such as a burst water main and an overturned lorry causing hours of delays in the past year.

Despite the huge rise in disruption, journey times across the road network have remained broadly steady according to TfL’s Journey Time Reliability figure.  This calculates the percentage of 30 minute trips that were completed on time or with a delay of less than 5 minutes.  For most Londoners road travel is a fast or as slow as usual, apart from those unlucky enough to drive down a road hit by a major incident.

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Traffic pollution battle stalls

Pollution cars copy

The battle with harmful air pollution caused largely by vehicles has stalled.

Data analysis by Urbs of the Daily Air Quality Index collected by the Department of the Environment shows that the rate of small particle pollution in the capital has not seen significant change since 2008.

The index measures the rate of small particles in the air that are largely caused by road transport. It records 10 micrometres particles and smaller ones of 2,5 micrometres that are more harmful to health.

In the period from December 2008 to March this year there was a 15% reduction in the 2.5 micometre particles, but it has gone up slightly in the past 12 months. The rate of the larger particles has remained relatively unchanged with just a 1% reduction.

The air quality index is graded in bands between 1 and 10. The good news for London is that air quality remains in the low risk 1-3 levels. A comparison with other cities commissioned by the GLA in autumn 2014 shows that London has lower levels of traffic pollution than Paris, Barcelona and Los Angele but people could breathe a little more easily at the roadside in Madrid, Berlin and New York.

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International comparison