Congestion is already a major issue in the UK, but with a rising population, lower oil prices and economic growth, congestion is set to increase significantly over the next few years.
- By 2031, Transport for London estimate a 60% increase in congestion in the capital (link)
- UK Gov (2015 report) state they predict road congestion to increase between 19% to 55% growth between 2010 and 2040.
The UK (especially in South) has a high population density. Building new roads is either not possible or undesirable because of the desire to protect remaining green spaces. With limited supply of roads, rising demand for travel – both car and HGV use will see congestion rise significantly.
Costs of congestion
Already, the UK economy experiences high social costs from congestion. These include
- Longer journey times, which has both economic and time cost for business and consumers.
- Air pollution from burning fuel in jams.
- Lost business for city centre shops who see customers put off travelling due to congestion.
Congestion and growth of cycling
- The growth of cycling in London is at least partly driven by gridlock on London roads. For commuters weighing up different options for travel to work, the higher the time lost through traffic jams, the more attractive the alternative cycling is.
- Congestion at peak times in Oxford is a big incentive to cycle into work. This is helped by a a limited and patchy offering of cycle lanes. (I wouldn’t call it a network as that would imply it is fully integrated). But, in some places it is just enough to help cyclists avoid the worst congestion.