It’s nice when something you knew all along is confirmed… or is it?
I live right alongside the most congested road in the United Kingdom. There, I’ve said it, and it doesn’t make me feel any better. For the last several years, from my bedroom window, I’ve watched increasing traffic on the A406, the notorious stretch from the Chiswick roundabout to the Hangar Lane gyratory system. Worse, as a driver I’ve been stuck in its endless traffic jams on far too many occasions. I have often moaned to others about it when, for example, I’ve been late for a meeting or late getting to the office but it wasn’t until last week that I finally got confirmation of what I’d suspected all along. It’s now officially the most congested road in the nation according to the Inrix 2017 Global Traffic Scorecard, which analyses data from connected cars and devices in 38 countries, including 11 cities and towns across the UK.
This little pearl of information is just part of a piece of research which has the UK’s roads tagged as the third most congested in Europe, behind only Russia and Turkey, and the tenth worst in the world. This, I must admit, came as something of a shock to me as I’ve been several times to both Moscow and Istanbul and regarded them as having comfortably the worst traffic I’ve ever experienced in Europe - Lagos, Nigeria is my all-time global worst - but I hadn’t realised that London was not far behind. And it’s not just passenger cars that are the problem. Again from my bedroom window which overlooks the A406, I can hardly believe the number of heavy goods vehicles I see on the road beneath me.
The Inrix survey also found that for the tenth year running London was the UK’s most congested city, with motorists spending approximately 74 hours a year caught up in peak time congestion, costing each of them £2,430 a year, or £9.5 billion across the city as a whole, a staggering increase from £3.3 billion in 2016. Something needs to be done before the UK, and London in particular, comes to a grinding halt. The central London congestion charge, to me, seems to have done nothing to alleviate traffic congestion in the suburbs. The various bodies representing the road transport industry are rightly concerned about the rising cost of delivery, something which will only worsen unless action is taken by government - and quickly.
Simon Duval Smith
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