Changes to the London Congestion Charge: The importance for road safety and Vision Zero

There are strong reasons to support the proposed changes to the Congestion Charge (extending the charging hours to 07:00-22:00, seven days a week; increasing the daily charge to £15). As well as the significant environmental arguments in favour of limiting the numbers of motor vehicles which are circulating within the Congestion Charging Zone (CCZ), there are additional and strong road safety factors which can contribute to TfL and Mayoral Vision Zero targets. Based on the 2018 casualty statistics from TfL, 22.0% of all serious and fatal casualties in the boroughs of City of London and Westminster (taken as an imperfect proxy for the CCZ) occurred on Saturdays and Sundays. In terms of time of day, 17.4% of all fatal and serious casualties occurred between 7pm and 10pm. Obviously not all of these casualties will be prevented by reduced levels of traffic BUT there is research evidence from Lancaster University in 2015 which found that the creation of the London Congestion Charge not only resulted in “meaningful” reductions of traffic volumes, but also “substantial” and “significant” reductions in accidents and fatalities – both in the charged area and in adjacent areas. It is highly likely that a proportion of the serious and fatal injuries that occur in the CCZ will be reduced by the proposed measures as they extend its hours of operation and days of operation into new times.

Extending the length of the charging period into the evening offers the opportunity to increase protection to people who may be thinking of walking or cycling commuter journeys home rather than taking public transport. It also supports those who are wanting to make use of Central London cafes and restaurants as they open up from lockdown and make use of outdoor space in the summer months. Equally important are the proposals to extend charging into the weekend. We have seen large numbers of people walking and cycling (often with children) in Central London over the lockdown period in low volumes of traffic over the weekends. It is vital that they are kept safe and are encouraged to make use of Central London over the summer weekends.

These changes offer a real opportunity to reduce the numbers of people killed and seriously injured on the roads in Central London as well as enabling London’s economy to re-open successfully. Please do support this consultation by emailing: yoursay@tfl.gov.uk

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