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Study finds London's most congested roads AREN'T on cycle routes

Data-driven research contrasts with evidence-free approach taken by opponents of cycling infrastructure

London is the second most congested city in Europe, and the seventh most prone to traffic jams worldwide according to a major study – but contrary to what opponents of cycling infrastructure might have you believe, none of the five roads most prone to congestion in the city is on a major cycle route.

Conducted by the traffic data firm INRIX, the study analysed data from more than 300 million connected vehicles in 1,360 towns and cities – 111 of them in the United Kingdom – in 38 countries around the globe.

Los Angeles emerged as the worst city in the world for congestion, with London seventh, and Thailand as the worst country, with the UK ranked tenth.

Motorists in London spent an average of 74 peak travelling hours a year in congestion, at a cost to the driver in terms of lost hours and fuel of £2,430 and costing the city a total of £9.5 billion.

Last month, without citing evidence, the Labour peer Lord Winston repeated his claim that introducing segregated cycling infrastructure led to increased levels of pollution because it led to more congestion for the capital’s drivers.

> Labour peer Lord Winston repeats claim that cycle lanes cause pollution

However, the INRIX data show that the most congested streets in London do not have major cycle routes on them.

Those are, in order:

the A406 North Circular Road from Chiswick Roundabout to Hangar Lane

the A23 from Kennington Park via Brixton and Streatham to Norbury Station

the A200/14 from Russell Square to New Fetter Lane

Earls Court Road from Kensington High Street to the Fulham Road and

the North Circular Road from Finchley Road to Colney Hatch Lane.

Commenting on the report, Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns and advocacy at the charity Cycling UK, told “The INRIX report always makes for interesting reading, because INRIX rely on data rather that anecdote.

“That data shows that of the five most congested roads in London, none is on a major cycle route, which does perhaps challenge the myth repeatedly put forward by some peers and public figures that it is cycle lanes that cause congestion.

“They might wish to reflect that the UK is the third most congested country in Europe, with only Russia and Turkey faring worse, neither of which are famed for their cycle lanes.

“Unsurprisingly, it seems that those countries more renowned for their cycle infrastructure are less congested, but who needs facts and evidence when a counter-narrative fits.”

He added: “Given the cost and scale of the congestion problems this report lays bare, it would be helpful if there was now an evidence led discussion about the causes of congestion, and the potential solutions, such as getting people out of private cars in city centres and onto public transport, walking and cycling.”   

 After London, the most congested cities in the UK were found to be Manchester, Birmingham, Luton and Edinburgh, according to the INRIX data.

Dr Graham Cookson, chief economist at INRIX, said: “Combined with the rising price of motoring, the cost of congestion is astonishing – it takes billions out of the economy and impacts businesses and individuals alike.

“With the Office of National Statistics showing more cars on the road than ever before, we need to consider innovative new approaches to solving the issue.

“Increased flexible working or road charges have potential, however, transport authorities should be looking to exciting developments in data analytics and AI which promise to reinvent our approach to traffic management.”

You can find the full INRIX 2017 Traffic Scorecard here, with results able to be filtered by country.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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