According to The Telegraph, the average speed of an urban driver will be less than that of a cyclist within a decade. Surely there are obvious conclusions to draw from this? Yes, there are, according to the RAC. They say we need more by-passes, tweaks to traffic light sequences and for cars to be allowed to use bus lanes.
Department for Transport (DfT) figures reveal that the average vehicle speed of cars on A roads in towns and cities dropped from a white-knuckled 19.3mph in 2014 to 18.4mph in 2017.
The Telegraph compares that to the average speed of a male cyclist on Strava, 16mph, and concludes that if the decline continues at the same rate, cars will be travelling slower than cyclists by 2027. (Well, it’s a good way to get a headline.)
Speeds aren’t actually a great deal higher when rural A roads are also included. Average speed at morning rush hour is 23.7mph and during the evening rush hour it’s 22.2mph.
Unsurprisingly, all 10 of the slowest local authority areas in England are in London. In the City of London, average A road traffic speeds are now 7.6mph. Manchester has the slowest speeds outside London at 15.3mph.
The RAC said government proposals, “should include extra investment into reducing congestion at pinch-points, looking at further town by-passes to redirect traffic, and resequencing traffic lights so authorities are optimising traffic flow.”
It also suggested ‘smart’ bus lanes to maximise the use of road space.
Nicholas Lyes, the organisation’s roads policy spokesman, added: “At some point, the Government may even have to look at road pricing as an alternative to the current taxation system to help manage demand, as an alternative to the current system of motoring taxation.”
So what was the Government response to the news?
A DfT spokesman said it was investing £23 billion in roads "to help cut congestion, shorten journey times and boost the economy".
He added: “We recently launched plans which will see utility companies charged up to £2,500 a day to carry out works on Britain’s busiest local roads – incentivising firms to work on quieter roads or outside of rush hour - to cut delays due to roadworks.
“Additionally, we are consulting on a Major Road Network which will improve connections between towns and cities across the UK and deliver safer, faster and more reliable journeys for drivers.”
Edmund King, the President of the AA, took a slightly different view.
“For years, the AA has argued that more could be done to encourage drivers to leave their cars on the outskirts and take public transport or car share into urban centres.
“But a lack of joined-up thinking in planning or a desperate urge to milk cash from drivers in the form of parking charges has left car commuters with no option but to join the queues.”
A spokesman for Greenpeace said: “This should be another red light flashing on the government dashboard. Air pollution and congestion go hand in hand.
“To solve this twin challenge ministers should incentivise people to take up cycling, walking and use public transport more.”