It is tempting to believe that London is unique when it comes to the way people travel; after all, the capital is awash with alternatives ranging from the underground to buses to taxis to trains, something that cannot be claimed for the rest of urban and rural England. Given the headlines, it would be unsurprising if most people thought these methods of transport far outweigh the car as modes of choice to get to work. Except they don’t, certainly not in the outer boroughs of the city.
On average a car (or van) is used by 29.7% of Londoners to get to ‘the office’, making it the largest single method of travel. Yet this does not tell the whole story. Take places like Hillingdon, Havering, Bexley and Sutton. Here the proportion of commuter journeys undertaken by car is at or over 50%.
At the other end of the scale – City of London, Islington, Westminster, Camden, Tower Hamlets – the number of commuter journeys by car or van can be measured in single or low double figures.
As for cycling, the figure is just 4% across the capital, but in Hackney more than 14% of residents use their bikes to get to work.
The point is that London should not be viewed as a single entity. There is life – and diversity – beyond zones one and two. Something that our politicians, cocooned in Westminster, would do well to remember.