Mapped: Dramatic Changes on London Streets in the Congestion Pricing Era

For the last nine years, private motorists entering central London between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. have paid a fee (currently £10 or US$16.22) to drive on the city’s scarce street space. The revenue from the congestion charge is plowed into the city’s transit system, and as Transport for London has amply documented, many Londoners have changed their commuting habits.

Now a flurry of maps released by ITO World, a British company that specializes in visualizing transport data, shows London’s dramatic shift to more sustainable modes from 2001-2010. (The congestion charge went into effect in February 2003.)

The map above depicts the extraordinary decrease in private motor vehicle traffic, with the bright blue dots showing where driving has gone down more than 30 percent and the bright red dots showing where it’s up more than 30 percent. By the looks of it, the drivable suburbs are still a bastion of private vehicles, but the central city is seeing far less traffic.

Of course, people aren’t just sitting at home. They’ve embraced other ways of getting around. So while there are fewer vehicles in London now than in 2001, one motorized mode has become more ubiquitous: the bus.


London bus ridership has risen an impressive 60 percent in the past decade.

Bicycling has also been a big winner in this seismic shift in travel habits. Cycling is up 110 percent in London since 2000. In the country as a whole, cycling on the road has increased 12 percent.

ITO World CEO Peter Miller says it’s not just the congestion charge that’s reducing the footprint of cars on London’s streets. It’s also the phenomenon of “peak car” — the less-understood pattern, happening in several industrialized countries, of diminishing car use. According to the Wikipedia article on “peak car” that Miller co-wrote, traffic into London had already fallen 28 percent in the nine years before the congestion charge was implemented. He gives many possible reasons for peak car, including rising gas prices and a growth in the culture of urbanism.

  • bill b

    Who cares what they do in London we in NYC became the number one city in the world by
    doing things our way. The last thing we should do is to follow all these second rate  cities. NYC is number one lets keep it that way. Tanya you are living too long in DC , which is   not even a real city. 

  • Anxiously Awaiting Bike Share

    I just read the wiki article on peak car and was curious if DOT (or similar in other countries) predictions for car miles traveled are self fulfilling prophecies.  If you predict more traffic, you build more road miles (the cheapest of which are in rural areas) which then induces demand for more miles driven.  If DOT would predict car miles traveled would fall by 10% in the next 30 years and funded accordingly, I bet miles traveled would fall 10% as well.

  • Jim

    These are misleading visualizations.

    Zoom out to the entire UK and it appears that nearly all of the country saw a >30% increase in car traffic.  Oops.

  • Anonymous

    @Jim Really?  Looks like a mix of blue and red to me…

  • Anonymous

    @dceefab00093e66ede587ad8043afead:disqus The entire country does not have a congestion charge. The article is focusing on driving/bus ridership in the place that does have a congestion charge – central London.

  • Interesting

    The affluent middleclasses in Edinburgh and London have taken to biking and buses. Car travel has gone up a lot nearly everywhere else. Car useage has only really dropped in London and in some of the commuter towns nearby.

  • Ministry of Design California

    The congestion is nothing more than revenue generation, the same amount of people i know still drive their car around London and just avoid the downtown area by driving their car around the outskirt of the congestion zone to get to their destination. The UK not the only state in the EU, Roma has also implemented their ZTL in sly attempt to generate revenue.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Three Concrete Proposals for New York City Traffic Relief

|
This Morning’s Forum: Road Pricing Worked in London. Can It Work in New York? Three specific proposals to reduce New York City’s ever-increasing traffic congestion emerged from a highly anticipated Manhattan Institute forum this morning. One seeks variable prices on cars driving in to central Manhattan, with express toll lanes and higher parking fees to keep things […]

London’s New Mayor, Sadiq Khan, Pledges to “Accelerate” Cycling Progress

|
London bike advocates proved they were a political force to be reckoned under Mayor Boris Johnson. After cyclists demonstrated that they would not be satisfied with half-measures, Johnson started to make serious headway on safe bike infrastructure in his second term. It looks like that progress will continue even with a new mayor from a different party. Last week, Londoners chose Sadiq Khan of […]

Congestion Pricing: Does New York Have the Will?

|
Brad Aaron reports: Political will, holistic planning, centralized management. That’s what Malcolm Murray-Clark says it takes to implement an effective congestion pricing plan. He should know. The Director of Congestion Charging at Transport for London (TfL) oversees a program that is as ambitious as it is successful — a program that went from idea to […]

An English Plan in New York

|
The once traffic-filled street between Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery is now a thriving plaza. Climate change is a greater threat to London than terrorism, one of the city’s top planners said yesterday. Debbie McMullen (right), a one-time New Yorker who heads implementation of the "London Plan," made this matter-of-fact announcement at a Tuesday […]

Cycling Booms in London, and the City’s Not Looking Back

|
Boris Johnson says that one of his goals as mayor of London was to make cycling “more popular and more normal.” As Johnson’s eight-year tenure winds down, it looks like the progress he made in his second term has accomplished that mission. If current trends continue, bike commuters will outnumber car commuters in central London by 2018, according to a […]