The Scoop

Traffic rising across London after decade long fall

Adam Bienkov | Tuesday 4 June, 2013 14:54

Traffic in London is now rising, reversing a decade long decline across the city, Boris Johnson has said.

Traffic had fallen by over ten per cent since the mayoralty was first set up thirteen years ago.

Car ownership had also fallen, bucking the national trend and making London the only region in the UK with fewer cars than households.

However, Boris Johnson now expects traffic to rise by up to 3% by 2018.

He told Green Party London Assembly Member Darren Johnson in a recent written answer that:

“TfL expects traffic in central, inner and outer London to grow by up to 2 per cent, 3 per cent and 2 per cent respectively. The figures indicate growth in vehicle kilometres on a typical midweek day.”

The Mayor has since written to Johnson to confirm that traffic is already starting to rise in London. He told him

“In terms of observed traffic volumes, the trend was downwards until 2011/12. More recent data for 2012/13 however suggest a small increase (c.1 per cent) on the previous year.”

Darren Johnson today called on the Mayor to stop “giving priority to cars”:

“London is the only major city in the world where traffic has reduced, as its population has risen rapidly. Less traffic has meant less pollution and car ownership has declined as people have made different lifestyle choices. The Mayor is in danger of reversing this huge achievement of the last decade by forcing up fares above inflation, giving priority to cars on the roads and creating a more dangerous environment for pedestrians and cyclists. The Mayor should abandon the above inflation fare rises, junk the dangerous ideas for smoothing traffic flow and focus on making cycling safer for everyone.”

Since Boris Johnson was elected he has re-phased traffic lights to favour traffic, raised fares above inflation every year and removed the western extension of the congestion charge. He also plans to spend billions on new East Thames road crossings.

However, TfL now admit that his flagship policy of “smoothing the traffic flow” has so far failed to have any effect.

In fact according to the latest Travel in London report, the percentage of road trips completed within the expected journey time has actually fallen slightly over the past few years.

TfL accept that the longer term trend is basically “stable”. In other words there has been no traffic smoothing at all.

London’s shift away from cars towards public transport is arguably the biggest achievement of the London Mayoralty.

Reversing that trend could could end up being Boris Johnson’s biggest legacy as well.

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Adam Bienkov

About this writer

Adam Bienkov

Adam is a reporter for You can find links to his other work at

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