As UK roads get more and more congested, it seems that some drivers will have to become what they have, on the whole, despised for years. A cyclist. INRIX is saying it could now be quicker to cycle than to drive if you commute into a city centre.

In many major UK cities, cars are travelling slower than the average cyclist does on the last mile of their journey. A new report by INRIX, a big data company specialising in roads, found that it was quicker to cycle than to drive, based on last mile speed in 6 major UK cities.

UK wide picture

On average, drivers in the UK lost 178 hours yearly due to congestion, costing the UK £7.9 billion over the year. For an average UK driver, this is £1317, an impressive amount when you look at it.

Six cities across the UK had an average last mile speed of 10mph or less, and when the average cyclist does 9.6mph, it seems almost ridiculous to carry on driving. While for some they may not be able to drive, for those who have adequate facilities at workplaces or live close enough to walk/cycle, it seems a much better option. In six UK cities, you’d actually travel faster by bicycle than a car.

In Central London, Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, wants 80% of journeys into the city centre to be by public transport, walking or cycling by 2041. At the moment, people are avoiding public transport finding it to be unreliable slow, or not getting them there when they need it to be.

As the table below shows, unsurprisingly London has the highest cost of congestion per driver, and the highest time lost due to congestion. Birmingham came in second in the UK but placed 51st in the overall worldwide ranking, much better than London’s 6th place.

Leeds congestion increased by 6% over the year, and one traffic campaigner from Leeds cited the evergrowing number of single drivers entering and crossing the city centre. Rob Greenland, co-director of Social Business Brokers, said to the Yorkshire Post “The cause of the near-daily congestion isn’t … a car broken down on the inner ring road, or whatever today’s excuse is. It’s the fact that there are too many people travelling alone in cars, so that when there’s a problem (traffic light failure, collision, broken down car) the system collapses. There is no resilience – because too many of us are travelling in a way that the system just can’t cope with.”

London 6 (6) 227 (6) £1,680 7
Birmingham 51 (52) 134 (68) £994 12
Glasgow 54 (57) 99 (117) £736 11
Manchester 85 (92) 156 (34) £1,157 10
Bristol 86 (90) 149 (45) £1,099 8
Edinburgh 87 (79) 165 (24) £1,219 8
Sheffield 90 (93) 149 (44) £1,101 10
Leicester 98 (98) 155 (37) £1,145 11
Leeds 101 (106) 143 (52) £1,057 13
Liverpool 104 (91) 119 (85) £878 10
Belfast 121 (112) 190 (16) £1,406 8
Cardiff 131 (123) 143 (53) £1,056 9
Nottingham 140 (136) 149 (43) £1,101 10
Hull 142 (138) 151 (41) £1,118 12
Newcastle 147 (143) 90 (135) £666 19
Coventry 167 (177) 90 (134) £666 17
Stoke-on-Trent 168 (165) 107 (102) £794 14
Southampton 173 (176) 111 (96) £821 11
Swansea 191 (191) 95 (126) £704 10
Data taken from INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard. Used for editorial purposes only.

UK vs the World

While London placed 6th overall, the rest of the UK fared better, with Birmingham coming in a respectable 51st and Glasgow in 54th.

For comparison, Dublin did not do well at all, as the city actually had the slowest last mile travel speed of any city worldwide, which is “The time it takes to travel one mile into the central business district during peak hours.” On average, you would drive at 6mph in the centre of Dublin during peak times, which is the worst of any city and urban area in the UK!

Last month, we told you about NICE wanting to give cyclists and pedestrians priority on roads, and so it seems that over the next twenty years, cities across the world will be designed with cyclists and other forms of transport over cars, as they help to reduce congestion in major cities, and you’ll go faster in a fair few of them.

Commenting on the report , Glynn Barton, Director of Network Management at TfL, said: “We are taking bold action to reduce congestion and improve London’s poor air quality. This includes removing the Congestion Charge exemption for private hire vehicles and reducing the time taken to clear up unplanned incidents, ensuring that roadworks by utilities companies and others are better coordinated. We are also working with the freight industry to encourage more efficient deliveries across the capital.”

“To directly tackle poor air quality, we are ensuring that buses, taxis and private hire vehicles are as green as possible, alongside the introduction of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone this April. In delivering the Mayor’s ambitious plans for 80 per cent of all journeys to be made by public transport, walking or cycling by 2041, our plans will further help tackle congestion across London.”

Worst UK roads to drive on

In rush hour the worst UK road was the A406 from the Chiswick Roundabout to Hanger Lane, with a daily delay of 15 minutes. The A406 also pops up further down the list in spot 6, with the congestion from the A1 to the A10 having a daily delay of 11 minutes. At peak travel time in London, the average mph was just 15.58 mph, and a reasonably fit cyclist can do up to 25mph on their commute, so it might be quicker to cycle for you if you live in a city centre.

Fifteen minutes daily may not seem like much, but over a year it equals to 61 hours for someone doing a daily journey, just over two and a half days.

In Leeds the Leeds Road/Saltaire Road was the worst, with the section between the Harrogate Road and the Bradford Road having a daily delay of 11 minutes, equaling 44 hours over the year.

Would you consider cycling to work if you knew it would save you time and money? Do you think cities should be doing more to reduce congestion? Let us know below

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