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London Tops the Slow Charts

It’s official, London’s streets are the slowest in the world. That’s according to a survey by sat nav maker Tom Tom, which analysed traffic speeds in 387 cities across 55 countries. That showed a typical three-mile journey through the capital taking 24 minutes at an “optimal traffic time,” (ie not rush hour) and 49 minutes for a six-mile trip. During rush hour, time spent on the six-mile commute stretched to 88 minutes – nearly an hour and a half – with average speeds in the city centre typically 15mph.

The chronic traffic congestion also led to more pollution, with London, closely followed by Paris, coming out as the biggest emitter of CO2 emissions among the cities analysed. An average petrol car making that six-mile commute over a year would produce 1155kg of CO2, 295kg of that being calculated as down to the traffic.

All these figures relate to 2023, which saw 228 of the cities surveyed experiencing a reduction in average speed. And of course, they all relate to four-wheeler traffic, so the average motorcyclist or scooter rider, taking advantage of filtering opportunities, would take less time and emit less CO2 than the average car.

Jim Freeman, Chair of the BMF, was in no doubt about the lessons to be drawn from London’s traffic-bound streets. “Get out of the car and onto 2 wheels, and freedom. From my own commuting history, in London, I know that my 35-minute motorcycle journey would take 75 minutes on public transport, with a car being simply off the scale. A car would also have been impossible to park unless you were prepared to pay stupefying amounts of cash. All of this was a reality long before anyone had heard of an ULEZ. The bike was also cheaper than TfL’s offering, with the advantage that one could use it for other things than commuting, like having fun! You can’t go to the Dolomites on a Travel card. That journey time is twice a day, so getting an extra 80 minutes for something other than getting to work was a major factor. No wonder Working from Home [WFH] took off during the pandemic, but that’s another story.”

Written by Peter Henshaw

Top image courtesy of Julian Walker