“A traffic special” to start the New Year and to highlight why we can’t bury our heads in the tarmac. It is not a lecture on Co2 emissions, but an overview that covers growth, congestion, trends, and the dilemmas, including the financial ones.
In 2007 there were 27m cars registered in the UK. In March 2019 it was 38.4 million. There are 2.56m in London. 40% of households own a car in Inner London, but in Richmond it is 75%.
The number of vehicle miles driven on London roads in 2019 was 22.6 billion. This is a 20% increase since 2009. However, driving on residential (“quiet) roads increased from 5.5bn to 9.5bn miles.
Of the 6.8m private vehicle trips made daily in Greater London, it is estimated that 4.2m are short enough to be walked or cycled.
The average car is parked 95% of the time. About half are parked on-street and this amounts to 5000 kilometres of kerbside parking. Cars are getting bigger and roads can become impassable.
‘C’ and residential roads are increasingly used to avoid congestion bottlenecks. There are smartphone apps, like Google owned WAZE, advising how to “drive like a local with short-cuts”. Drivers would not welcome this on their own streets.
The fastest growing element of vehicle purchasing and contribution to traffic has been the delivery van. “The massive increase in traffic on C roads is probably a combination of home shopping and van-based services.” (AA President)
Central Government, as Highways England, has responsibility for the “strategic network” of motorways and a few major A roads. They are spending £27bn for 2020-25 to ease congestion on these roads that barely touch London. Traffic will move more freely to roads outside their control where local authorities do not have such sums to spend. As the Department of Transport forecast a 35% increase in traffic by 2030 any successes may be short lived.
The forecast increases in traffic mean more emissions. The government’s ban of sales of petrol and diesel cars after 2030 reflects the view that only by forcing the conversion to electric vehicles can climate targets be met. Unfortunately, this will not ease congestion and add to pm2.5 emissions. Other solutions, modal but also financial, are needed to resolve congestion.
Electric cars mean lost revenue on fuel duty, VAT and excise duties. So, Central Government might consider taxing the electric charging of cars, but will certainly look at charging for road usage. TfL under the Mayor has the trunk roads (5% of capital’s roads but 30% of miles driven) and has holes to plug in its finances. It would be surprising if the Boroughs did not collaborate and follow suit. The sophistication could assess a journey, not only by distance, but vehicle type, time of day and type of road. I think it will happen.”
Cllr Richard Bennett
South Twickenham Ward. Leader, Green Group