Traffic has fallen by 40% in the City since 1999 – good news for air pollution and people’s fitness
City workers are swapping their pinstripe suits for cycle helmets and hi-vis jackets. Since 1999, total traffic in the City of London has fallen by 40% and bicycles are now the dominant vehicle during the rush hour.
This is good news for air pollution in an area that breaches EU limit values for nitrogen dioxide, but an increase in active travel has many other benefits: less road traffic noise, fewer climate change emissions and people benefiting from more exercise.
A five-year study on 260,000 UK workers as part of UK Biobank showed that the 16,000 people who cycled as part of their commute had lower rates of heart disease and cancer and were living longer compared with those who largely sat in their cars or on public transport.
For the first time, the City of London data also included walking, which is often overlooked in transport planning. Walking was found to make up half of the people movements in the City, but pavements make up only 25% of street space.
There was good news from the Biobank research, too: the 14,000 walkers in the study had lower heart disease than car commuters, reinforcing the benefits of active travel.