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.
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 road.cc: “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.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.