Twice as many journeys in outer London are by car than in centre of capital

Traffic in south London  (PA Archive)
Traffic in south London (PA Archive)

Twice as many journeys in outer London are by car than in more central areas, a new study has found, prompting calls for more cycle lanes and bus routes in the capital’s suburbs.

A report by the Centre for London think tank says millions of outer Londoners are forced to use their cars even for short journeys due to limited public transport.

It said that while recent announcements like the Superloop express bus network were “welcome”, they are, on their own “unlikely to do enough to meaningfully improve access to sustainable modes of transport for most people in outer London”.

While just 19 per cent of journeys in inner London are by car, the proportion rises to 38 per cent in outer boroughs. Meanwhile, some 62 per cent of outer London residents said they would travel more often by public transport if it was more reliable. Some 45 per cent said they would rely on walking, cycling, or e-scootering if there were clearer or wider pavements.

Claire Harding, interim chief executive of Centre for London, said: “There are 5.4 million people in outer London – as many as live in Scotland. But many of these people don’t have access to the transport options that their inner London counterparts enjoy.

“Political rhetoric about transport spending in London hides the fact that millions of Londoners have limited options for getting around their neighbourhood.

“Improving the options people have to travel sustainably for local trips, not just commuting, is at the heart of making London a more liveable city.”

To reduce car usage in the suburbs, the report’s authors said there should be more segregated cycle paths connecting the outer boroughs to one another, not just routes to and from central London.

In addition, they argued that Transport for London (TfL) should commit to introducing new bus routes for new housing developments before those developments are completed, so that they can offer better public transport links and less car parking.

They also suggested that London’s local authorities design shared transport programmes, such as car clubs and shared bike schemes.

A spokeswoman for London mayor Sadiq Khan said: “The Mayor is determined to continue improving London’s public transport network, particularly in outer London.

“Sadiq has delivered the transformational Elizabeth line, opened the new Barking Riverside station and is increasing and improving the bus network in outer London.”

She added that “improving walking and cycling options is also a huge priority for the Mayor” and that since 2016, the number of cycle routes in the capital has increased fivefold.