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Data about transport in London!

Traffic speeds and congestion by region

Last month the Department for Transport published new quarterly statistics on congestion on local authority ‘A’ roads, which include most motorways and carry about 80% of all traffic in England. The chart below shows trends in average speeds (and by implication, congestion) in each region during the equivalent quarter of each year back to 2008 (click for full size).

This illustrates a few points:

  • Congestion is much higher in London than in any other region, unsurprisingly.
  • However, London is the only region where congestion did not worsen between 2008 and 2010 (as shown by lower speeds).
  • However however, speeds increased and congestion fell in every region apart from London between 2011 and 2012.

To what extent this latter trend is due to transport policies or to factors such as different weather conditions or different economic fortunes is open to speculation.

Filed under: Data, DfT, Historic, Regions, Traffic

Car ownership in London continues to fall

We’ve posted before about falling car ownership in London, as measured by the number of cars per household. The latest figures from DfT show this figure continuing to fall in London, from 0.78 cars per household in 2008/09 to 0.76 in 2009/10. Meanwhile it’s up very slightly in the rest of Britain, to 1.21 cars per household. So there are roughly three cars for every four households in London, compared to nearly five in the rest of Britain.

Filed under: Car ownership, Data, DfT, Historic, Regions

Updated: trend in cycling flows on TLRN

We have posted previously about TfL’s statistics showing the trend in cycle flows measured on their network of main roads in London. Data for the second quarter of 2011/12 is now available and the charts below (and accompanying data) have been updated accordingly.

It’s important to note, though, that this is just one way of measuring trends in cycling in London, and probably not the best.

Filed under: Cycling, Data, Historic, London, TfL

Change in cycle to work rates between 1971 and 2001 by London borough

For all the data showing more recent trends in levels of cycling in London (such as the main roads count we covered previously), there is very little which tells us about longer term trends. However it is possible to get an idea of long term trends from the Census, which every ten years asks every person in the country a bunch of questions, including one about how people get to work.

We’ve just had a Census in March of this year but the results won’t be out for at least another 12 months, so the latest Census data we have is from 2001. Data going back to 1971 can be downloaded from Casweb or (only back to ’81) from Nomis. In each Census everyone of working age in employment was asked how they travelled to work or if they worked at home (Note: people could only tick one box and were asked to choose the mode of transport they used for the longest part, by distance, of their journey. So this will tend to undercount the amount of walking involved in journeys to work).

The chart below shows the trend in the proportion of people who said they cycled to work in London. There’s very little change over the thirty year period, with the proportion consistently in the 2% to 2.5% range.

Things get more interesting when you go below the regional level. Data is available to borough level, and I aggregated the boroughs into Inner and Outer London (according to the ONS definition). The chart below shows the results.

This shows a fairly remarkable turnaround. In 1971 Outer London residents were twice as likely to cycle to work as Inner London residents, but by 2001 it was the other way around. Cycling to work fell every decade in Outer London (though only slightly in the 1990s) and rose every decade in Inner London.

There are some striking trends at borough level too. In 1971 1% of people in Hackney cycled to work, but by 2001 it was 6%. At the other end, 5% of Hillingdon residents cycled to work in 1971, falling to 2% in 2001.

The two scatterplot charts below illustrate the borough level trends. The first charts the cycling rate in 1971 on the X axis against the rate in 2001 on the Y axis. Boroughs above the line saw an increase in the cycling rate between 1971 and 2001, and those below the line saw a decrease. The second chart plots the rate in 1971 against the percentage point change between 1971 and 2001. In both charts Inner London boroughs are shown as blue diamonds and Outer London boroughs as red circles.


Two things really stand out. First, boroughs with relatively high cycling rates in 1971 tended to see decreases over the next 30 years. Secondly, Inner London boroughs nearly all saw an increase while Outer London boroughs nearly all saw a fall. The only Inner London borough that didn’t increase its cycling rate over this period was Newham.

It’s worth bearing in mind a few caveats about these figures. First, they describe the transport choices of residents of each borough, but not the journeys made in each borough. As many (most?) journeys to work involve crossing borough boundaries, the modal share of journeys made in each borough will be somewhat different (The City of London is an extreme case, as it has very few residents but a huge number of people commute to work there).

Second, these figures include all modes of transport, including rail, which is obviously quite important in terms of commuting in London. It’s possible to instead look at cycling as as proportion of road traffic only, but that doesn’t seem to change the conclusions very much.

Third, this data only describes journeys to work, which are certainly important but still a minority of all the trips taken in London. We’d be interested to see any similar data for non-work journeys if it’s out there somewhere.

Finally, we’ll be making the data available soon, once we work out the best way of presenting it.

Filed under: Boroughs, Census, Cycling, Data, Historic, London

Parking spaces in London

TfL have made available (through their ‘Romulus‘ site) two studies of the number of parking spaces in London, the first carried out in 1999 and the second in 2004/05. You can find them by expanding the ‘Reports’ section of the left-hand menu, but be warned, they’re both big files (56mb in the case of the first one!).

The most interesting bit is probably the impact of the congestion charge on parking availability in Central London, as reported in the second study:

  • In central London there was a reduction of 45% in the number of parking spaces for employees at workplaces, compared with 1999/2000. With the introduction of congestion charging in 2003 there was less incentive for employees to drive to work in central London, and there were fewer small car parks available for employee parking.
  • There was also a 10% reduction in spaces available to the general public in central London car parks. The overall reduction in central London car park spaces (excluding those in residential car parks) was 24%. By contrast there were increases in available car park spaces in inner and outer London, outside the central area. In inner London there was an increase of 23% and in outer London an increase of 30%.
  • There was a reduction in on-street parking spaces other than at meters and pay-and-display areas. In central London there were 27% fewer spaces on single-yellow or single-red lines, which normally allow parking in the late evening and at night. In inner and outer London there were 9% fewer unrestricted on-street spaces.

Filed under: Car parking, Historic, London, Report, TfL

Traffic casualties in London since 1901

TfL’s most recent report on traffic casualties shows that 126 people died in collisions on London’s roads in 2010. While this figure represents a terrible loss of life, one which can and should be reduced, it is also – as TfL point out – the first time the number of road fatalities has fallen below 150 since their records began in the 1970s.

It is in fact possible to go further back in history then that. Statistics for 1901 onwards were collected by the London County Council and then the Greater London Council, first covering the Metropolitan Police District and then (from the mid 1960s) the Greater London area. Fortunately these two geographies match up fairly well – the Metropolitan Police District is larger than the Greater London area, but until around the mid 60s its outer reaches were sparsely populated enough to make little difference. Using LCC and GLC statistical reports found in the libraries of the London School of Economics and the Greater London Authority, we reconstructed trends of fatalities and total casualties (i.e. including ‘serious’ and ‘slight’ injuries) in London between 1901 and 2010, shown in the two charts below.

Some clear overall patterns emerge. First, each world war resulted in a large fall below trend in both fatalities and total casualties. Taking the effect of the wars into account, the basic trend in terms of fatalities seems to be an increase to a peak of around 1,400 a year in the early 1930s, followed by a long decline that continues to this day, with the 2010 figure of 126 deaths the lowest in the entire record. Total casualties peaked much later, in the early 1960s at 70-80,000 a year, and have fallen proportionately less to around 30,000 a year.

The chart below, derived from the two above, confirms that fatalities have fallen as a share of total casualties over time, though again with notable breaks from trend at the time of the two world wars. The overall downwards trend is presumably due to improvements in emergency care and overall health over time, with the ‘blips’ during the wars probably due to a combination of factors such as blackouts and a shortage of medical care.

You can download the data for these charts in csv format here. In a future post we’ll look at the long-run trend in cyclist casualties.

Filed under: Data, Historic, London, Safety, TfL