According to the Department for Transport, road traffic in Great Britain is still on the rise, up 2.2 per cent (year ending Sept 2015) and a provisional estimate of 316.1 billion vehicle miles – the highest rolling annual total ever.
To put that in long-term perspective, traffic has risen 19 per cent in two decades.
That’s good news for car manufacturers, fuel companies and suppliers of asphalt, but not for the nation’s car, LGV and HGV drivers, who are taking longer to get around. In England average speeds have continued to fall steadily for more than 3 years with decreases of between 2.2% and 3.5% respectively in July and September, compared to the same months in 2014.
The figures from the DfT don’t touch on the accompanying inevitable rise in pollution and the resultant impact on public health – a recent London study found eight and nine year olds living in cities have a smaller lung capacity thanks to air pollution (source: Daily Telegraph) to touch on just one of the problems of air pollution. According to Kings College London, a staggering 9,400 deaths in one year were due to air pollution.
Electric cars are still just a fraction of those on the road (electric car sales make up one per cent of the motor trade in Scotland).
Sustainable transport charity Sustrans pointed out that action will have to be taken to cope with the rise.
“With the UK population expected to rise by almost 10 million in 25 years we simply cannot keep building roads on this small island with the relentless hope that it will meet people’s travel needs and dig everyone out of gridlock," said policy director Jason Torrance.
“The smart money is on investing in walking and cycling for local journeys, yet funding for these means is heading for a cliff edge in April.
“Continuity of funding for sustainable transport from April is essential to stop a meltdown in local authority jobs, experience and projects that support cycling and walking and, crucially, will pave the way for a successful Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy.”