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Cycling the fastest way around UK's most congested cities, finds new report

Latest annual Global Traffic Scorecard from Inrix includes cycling metrics for the first time

Cycling is the quickest way of getting around some of the UK’s most congested cities, according to the latest annual Global Traffic Scorecard from traffic data experts Inrix – which, for the first time, includes metrics relating to travelling by bike or by public transport.

Several of the UK cities included in the global ranking such as London, Birmingham and Manchester, are in the midst of developing extensive cycle networks, including protected lanes for bikes as they aim to cut traffic congestion and improve air quality.

London, ranked the third most congested city globally last year, drops to eighth on the 2019 scorecard, with the capital’s motorists spending an average of 149 hours stuck in traffic jams during the year and an average last-mile speed of just 10 miles per hour.

Following it in the list of the 10 most congested UK cities, in ranking order, are Belfast, Bristol, Edinburgh, Manchester, Cardiff, Birmingham, Southampton, Nottingham and Hull.

The fastest average last mile speed in the ten cities is Birmingham at 16mph, meaning for the vast majority of us - depending on the traffic lights and various other factors - cycling will be faster than driving in all of these cities.

The fastest last-mile speed is found in Birmingham, but even then, at 16 miles an hour it’s one that many regular cycle commuters would be able to exceed.

The West Midlands city recently unveiled plans to ban through traffic from crossing the city centre by dividing it into zones, similar to the approach taken by cities in the Netherlands elsewhere.

> Birmingham heralds end to “golden age of cars” by banning trips by private motorists across city centre

London and Edinburgh – which has the highest levels of cycle commuting in Scotland and has unveiled a scheme to make its Georgian New Town safer for people on foot and on bike – are the only two cities where public transport is quicker than driving.

Among the other cities on the list, Nottingham, which has a workplace parking levy that has attracted interest from city authorities elsewhere in the country, saw a 17 per cent reduction in congestion.

Meanwhile, Manchester is the focal point of Transport for Greater Manchester’s Bee Network of cycling and walking network championed by Chris Boardman, while Cardiff recently introduced segregated cycle lanes close to its university.

> Greater Manchester 'can be national blueprint’ for cycling and walking, Boris Johnson told

Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at Inrix, commented: “Congestion costs drivers, businesses and the UK economy billions of pounds each year. With the rising price of motoring, consumers are getting hit hardest.

“With the UK budget due soon, hopefully the Chancellor will take the opportunity to address this issue with continued investments in transport networks.”

Inrix, which says that traffic congestion costs the UK economy £6.9 billion annually, has recommended major improvements to public transport and rail networks as one solution to stop hours being wasted in traffic jams.

It has also said that making streets safer for people on bikes would help persuade many motorists to switch to cycling and thereby ease congestion.

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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