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Data about transport in London!

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

New TfL report about onwards travel from Central London termini

Just noticed that TfL have recently published a report about onwards travel from the main Central London rail termini, which you can find here. It looks at who uses the termini, where they are going (in terms of location and trip purpose) and how they get there. Here’s a chart of onwards distance travelled by mode:

One of the more interesting findings is the make-up of the group of people that usually cycle their onwards journey: “Cycling is dominated by a particular demographic. Eighty two per cent of cycle journeys are made by men and 60 per cent of cyclists are aged between 25 and 44”. The new Cycle Hire scheme doesn’t seem to have changed this much.

Filed under: 2010, Cycling, DfT, London, Rail, Report

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

Regional trends in licensed cars

DfT publish some useful statistics on trends in the number of new and existing licensed cars (and other vehicles) at national and regional level. We’ve done some charts below comparing trends in London with other regions.

The first chart (from table VEH0204) shows the proportional growth in the number of licensed cars by region, standardised to a common value of 100 in the year 2000. What it shows is that the number of licensed cars grew by about 6% in London between 2000 and 2010, compared to between 12% and 20% in the other regions. Perhaps the most noticeable recent trend is the sharp drop in the number of licensed cars in the North West in the last two years, although this is still relatively small, only around 3% of the total in 2008.

The second chart (from VEH0254) shows the number of cars registered for the first time by region in 2005 and 2010. There were 127,400 cars registered for the first time in London in 2010, down from 192,200 in 2005. There were falls in every other region except the South East.

Finally, the chart below shows the trend in registered cars per capita by region, which we calculated by dividing the figures in table VEH0204 by regional population estimates downloaded from Nomis. There is one car for every three people in London, compared to one for every two in the South East, South West, West Midlands and East England.

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

Quarterly trend in cycle flows on London’s main roads

Transport for London’s quarterly ‘Operational and Financial Performance Report’, which is published as part of the Finance and Policy Committee papers, includes a measure of the trend in the number of cyclists counted on London’s main roads (the Transport for London Road Network, or TLRN). The measure is an index set to 100 in the base period of March 2000, and according to the latest report the index reached a new high of 298 in the latest quarter (April to June 2011). This means that in this period there were about three times as many cyclists counted as using the TLRN as in March 2000.

The first chart below shows the quarterly trend in the index (and a four-quarter moving average), while the second chart shows the trend in the annualised change, i.e. the change from the same quarter a year ago. You can get the data for each chart in csv format here.

Last year’s Travel in London report also included a monthly index (Fig 2.11, data in this big spreadsheet).

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

TfL report on London Travel Demand Survey

Not sure when it came out, but TfL have published a report (link here) analysing data from the 2007-10 dataset of their London Travel Demand Survey. It’s full of interesting stuff about how, when and where Londoners travel, the chart below being just one example.

Filed under: 2010, London, Report, TfL

Casualties from collisions with goods vehicles, by mode

The 2010 London Freight Data Report (pdf), prepared for TfL by a team from the University of Westminster, has a wealth of information about goods vehicle traffic in London, some of it already already analysed over at Cycle of Futility.

The chart below is based on table 4.4 from the report, and shows the number of fatal and serious casualties resulting from collisions in which goods vehicles were involved in London, by mode of travel, for 1994-98 (averaged) and for 2008, the latest year available.

The (relatively) good news is that the number of car/taxi occupants, pedestrians, goods vehicles occupants and bus/coach occupants killed or seriously injured in collisions with goods vehicles has fallen sharply between 1994-98 and 2008. The bad news is that the trend for motorcyclists is almost and the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured (KSI) in collisions with goods vehicles has actually risen over the period, so that cyclists now account for 19% of goods vehicle-related KSIs, up from 8% in the mid 1990s.

Filed under: DfT, Historic, London, Report, Safety

Live traffic speeds from Google Maps

Google Maps includes a ‘live traffic’ feature which apparently exploits crowdsourced data from GPS-enabled phones to estimate traffic speeds on main roads. There’s a screengrab (click to embiggen) of central London below, with the light colours indicating higher speeds. The coverage is a little patchy as it presumably depends on there being enough GPS-enabled phones moving around for it to work.

This isn’t really ‘data’ in the sense that we usually cover on this blog as it is proprietary and, thus far, not reusable. But you can see how the underlying database could be very useful for transport planning or road safety purposes.

Filed under: Commercial, Live, London, Traffic