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Outer London seizing up: ‘Get a grip,' Transport 2000 tells politicians

12 January 2007
New research from Transport 2000 [1] published 17 January shows that, if the Mayor is serious about London leading the way in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, he must cut traffic in outer London.

Traffic levels over the past decade have grown in outer London, in some boroughs by as much as 15% – in sharp contrast to most inner London boroughs, which have reduced their traffic [see note 2, a borough-by-borough league table]. Transport for London projections indicate that traffic in outer London could grow by 14% over the next decade and congestion by even more.

Transport 2000’s research [3] shows how important outer London is if we wish to reduce overall traffic in the capital:


  • 87% of all car journeys by Londoners end in outer London
  • Only 13% of trips in outer London are made by public transport
  • In order to meet the Government’s target of 60% reduction in carbon emissions, traffic in outer London must be reduced by 17% from today’s level

"Two things are urgently needed. The Mayor must put in place policies to reduce traffic in outer London and get a grip on reducing carbon emissions. And Councillors must support progressive measures. Tackling the traffic problems where two-thirds of Londoners live is vital. Our new research shows how that can be done," says Richard Bourn, Transport 2000’s London Campaigner.


Transport 2000’s research found that while boroughs are taking some positive steps, they aren’t doing enough [4]. And they need support. Transport 2000 found that councillors often fail to back officers in tackling transport problems. Councillors can be sceptical about the benefits of walking and cycling schemes and ‘soft measures’ in general, such as school and workplace travel plans, even though these have been seen to work elsewhere. The boroughs also need more support and guidance from the GLA and TfL particularly in changing individuals’ travel behaviour and setting more ambitious targets for traffic levels.

1. Transport 2000 is an independent campaigning and research body that represents the key transport interests of around 40 environmental groups, transport organisations and transport unions. We bring together people who seek to reduce the environmental and social effects of transport through encouraging less use of cars, lorries and planes and more use of rail, buses, trams, cycling and walking.

2. Local authorities in Outer London Change in estimated traffic flows, 1996-2005 (%)


  • Redbridge 14.8
  • Bexley 14
  • Barking and Dagenham 11.4
  • Greenwich 10.7
  • Harrow 8.7
  • Brent 8.5
  • Bromley 7.9
  • Waltham Forest 7.2
  • Ealing 7.2
  • Sutton 6.5
  • Havering 5.7
  • Hillingdon 5.7
  • Barnet 4.2
  • Enfield 3.6
  • Croydon 1.6
  • Merton 1.3
  • Kingston 0.9
  • Richmond-upon-Thames 0.8
  • Hounslow -0.4

Average, outer London 6.3


Inner London  


  • Newham 9.8
  • Tower Hamlets 8.8
  • Lewisham 2.1
  • Hackney 1.1
  • Haringey 1.1
  • Southwark 1.0
  • Hammersmith and Fulham 0.3
  • Kensington and Chelsea -1.4
  • Westminster -1.7
  • Wandsworth -2.6
  • Islington -3.3
  • City of London -4.3
  • Lambeth -5.9
  • Camden -14.6

Average, inner London -0.7


Source: Department for Transport`s National Road Traffic Survey

3. These statistics can be found in a briefing, Improving Transport in Outer London, published today and in two reports on which it is based: Low Carbon Transport for Outer London and Making Way for Better Transport in Outer London. Transport 2000 is grateful for the financial support of London Councils in this project.

4. Transport 2000’s research identifies four types of measure available to the boroughs. There are examples of good practice under all of these headings.

a. Promote access and increase travel choice

Councils need to ensure that jobs, services and amenities are located near where people live so that they can be reached on foot and by bicycle. For example, in Ealing and Hillingdon, a large development of homes and offices at Grand Union Village includes shops, community and health facilities on site while schools, supermarkets and a leisure centre are within walking distance. A network of footways and cycle ways is provided throughout the development.

b. Improve alternatives to the car

Councils can help improve public transport and make walking and cycling easier and more attractive. The examples are legion. In the Wembley Town Centre Walking Project, pedestrian facilities are being substantially improved to allow people arriving at the station to complete their journey to the new stadium on foot. The scheme includes taking space from the carriage way to widen pavements and installing bike parking. Hounslow has extended and improved bus lanes and installed more cycle lanes and pedestrian crossings in the Chiswick High Road. Richmond Council has greatly improved access to Richmond Station for people arriving by bus, on foot and by bicycle. Sutton is one of several boroughs that have encouraged membership of car clubs as an alternative to car ownership.

c. Manage demand for car travel

The main means of managing demand include reducing the amount of parking, improving parking enforcement, managing road space efficiently and charging for road use and workplace parking. No borough has yet introduced road user or workplace parking charges, though they have the power to do so. Most, if not all, boroughs have introduced Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs). For instance there are now 17 main CPZs (and a number of smaller schemes) in Richmond, which also proposes to increase higher parking charges for inefficient vehicles such as 4x4s.

d. Change travel behaviour

Encouraged by Transport for London, councils are making greater use of ‘soft’ or ‘smart’ measures (which require little or no new physical infrastructure) to promote travel by means other than the car. Soft measures include school and workplace travel plans, individual travel advice and travel awareness campaigns. For example, Bromley has developed an online tool to assist in the creation of travel plans across London. Called the Business Wizard, it can be used in any borough, and the concept is equally relevant to authorities outside London. Croydon has prepared guidance for developers on the benefits of travel plans, explaining when these are necessary and what they should contain. Under a travel plan for a new development at Plough Lane in Wimbledon, the developer funded a bus lane and bus stops, pedestrian facilities and cycle priority measures. A bus service has been diverted to provide a link to the town centre and residents receive a free bicycle, membership of a car club and a pack of public transport information.