Who Is Right About Traffic in London?

Lewisham Councillor James Rathbone is a strong supporter of the newly introduced Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme in Lee Green ward. He recently issued a Tweet which said: “People are right to be angry that there is so much congestion on their streets but it’s been a growing problem for the last decade”. He also suggested that “Without traffic reduction the number of vehicle miles will only rise”, i.e. that the alleged problem would get worse. He backed it up with some graphs without giving the source or what they actually represented.

My response was that from my experience of living and driving in London for many years, I believed he was exaggerating. I have taken the time to actually locate the relevant data and here it is:

London and Lewisham Traffic Data

Traffic volumes in London, and even more so in Lewisham, have been falling for the last 10 years. If there is any increase in traffic congestion it is the result of new traffic management measures, road narrowing, road closures, new bus lanes, imposition of cycle superhighways and other attempts to impose modal shift on drivers. In other words, poor traffic management is the cause, not increases in traffic volumes. 

I hope Mr Rathbone will apologise for misleading people.

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5 thoughts on “Who Is Right About Traffic in London?

  1. Hi I’m A driver living in Southeast if you 13 6PT Heather Green Lane since 2001 I’m a British citizen always I live in Lewisham in one area I live with my family with my kids one of them 13 Years old on second of them for years old which of disabled the half every morning I take my daughter to the school they took me more than two hours go and come back afternoon and morning Rich of the school is 15 minutes walk and my second kid she has a disabling am asked to take him to the hospital but I live if I walk to Lewisham hospital it’s take me five minutes but because she have a disabled now they take me off an hour she have to be at Lewisham hospital every single day because of the disabled she has my considerate for traffic of Lewisham is very very bad even is worse than last year watered and five months ago I’m very politely ask why they ask for the camera even they have a camera operated next to my house nowtake me five minutes to forty five minutes from the house to the school or to Mission Hospital is forty five minutes it’s five minute journey I don’t know why that government policy has been changed every single day has the winter the winter have been changed every second of the government policy of illusion is every minutes my cancer is to traffic of Lewisham is very very bad especially now cameras on the side road has been closed people Even the traffic people that put the Thracian everyone had to travel to walk about the coronavirus distant they must to be clear everywhere but unfortunately it’s gone opposite the way I’m really happy if they have a demonstration and the first person to join with the campaign that is my counsellor about the camera and traffic officer thank you

  2. The issue as I see it is that since the widespread adoption of sat navs/google maps/waze, traffic on smaller residential streets has increased as drivers avoid the main roads – it’s not our fault – we simply drive where the sat nav directs us. Since 2010 traffic on unclassified streets in London has risen 70% while those on A and B roads actually fell slightly, this date coincides with the start of wider sat nav adoption….. it’s not really rocket science is it?
    * stats taken from DfT Annual road traffic in London 1993-2019 by road type in vehicle miles

    • Even if I accept the claimed statistics (which I would question just from personal experience of driving on London’s roads), there are other possible reasons for increases in traffic on local roads. For example, many more internet shopping deliveries and local services provided via vehicles in general. There is also more use of PHV services such as Uber who will often use local roads to access clients.
      TfL have of course been trying to ban Uber (just lost the battle in court) but I don’t see how you can halt these new services and there is probably no impact on air pollution or road safety statistics anyway. Neither can one ban people from using SatNav services – there would be an uproar if you tried although I think there is some merit in trying to persuade SatNav operators not to direct people down the narrowest roads (although again from my experience they don’t anyway – at least in the TomTom system I use).

  3. Curious that the Lewisham scheme has been implemented to “close off” the wealthier part of Hither Green. I wonder if the councillors live there by any chance?

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