COVID-19: Traffic congestion in UK cities 'down by a quarter' during pandemic

Wednesday 13th January 2021 05:00 GMT

There was an average fall of 24% in urban traffic in 2020 as Britons adopted working from home in large numbers.

In April, the first month of lockdown, there was a huge impact as rush-hour traffic dropped to 78% below the same month in 2019.

Sat-nav firm TomTom, which carried out the research, said four of the world's most gridlocked cities were in the UK in 2020, down from 10 the year before.

Edinburgh stayed the most congested UK city in 2020, according to TomTom, with the average journey taking 32% longer compared with free-flowing conditions.

That is nine percentage points down on a year before, but the Scottish capital still ranks as the 43rd most congested global city out of 416 analysed.

London was just behind as the UK's second most gridlocked city - average journeys there took 31% longer.

Hull and Brighton and Hove were joint third on 28%, and Belfast next on 26%.

World cities saw modest falls in congestion, despite some - such as France - imposing tough restrictions on movement.

Paris saw a drop of seven percentage points, Moscow five, Istanbul four, and Berlin just two percentage points.

TomTom's Stephanie Leonard said: "Early last year, we announced that congestion levels were rising in the UK, and the country was moving in the wrong direction, but then everything changed in March 2020.

"Driven by the global pandemic, the UK saw a massive drop in traffic levels."

Ms Leonard warned however that traffic could "shoot up" again when the crisis is near its end.

"Unless there's a concerted and deliberate change in driver behaviour, supported by policymakers and employers, we're unlikely to see a permanent end to the rush hour," she said.

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