Public Release: 

Congestion charge potentially unsafe for motorcyclists, claim researchers

The London congestion charge may be having an adverse effect on motorcyclist and cyclist casualties, according to research now published online in the journal Transportation.

Imperial College London

Imperial College London and Loughborough University researchers found an increase of up to 40 more motorcycling casualties per month during the congestion charging period (from 7am-6.30pm) for inner London, excluding the congestion zone. However, they also found a drop of 5.6 motorist casualties per month in the congestion charging zone since the charge was introduced.

The study analysed the effect of the congestion charge on traffic casualty figures for motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. It is based on figures taken from January 1991 to February 2003, 21 months after the introduction of the congestion charge.

Researchers examined killed and serious traffic injuries (known as KSI) and slight injuries to see whether there were any shifts in total outcomes. They looked at the following regions:

  • Inner London--the central boroughs of London surrounding the congestion charging zone
  • Outer London-- the suburban areas of greater London
  • Greater London--a region encompassing all 32 London boroughs
  • Congestion charging zone--the central zone of London with boundaries bordering Park Lane (west), Euston Road (north), Commercial Road (east) and New Kent Road (south)

When looking at outer London only, researchers saw a reduction in slight injuries for motorists and an increase in cyclist casualties.

When they analysed the overall figures for greater London they found no statistically significant change in total traffic casualties since the introduction of the congestion charge.

Speaking about the rise in motorcyclist casualties in inner London, Imperial's Dr Robert Noland said:

"Transport for London data indicates an increase in motorcycle trips within the charging zone of about 15 per cent. The incentive to use motorcycles, which are exempt from the congestion charge, could explain why parts of London have experienced an increase in motorcycle casualties."

Speculating about the rise in cycling casualties in outer London he said:

"The congestion charge may be encouraging a steady increase in the number of cyclists commuting to rail stations and this could explain the rise in casualties."

Commenting about the research and the impacts on transport policy, Dr Noland said:

"The impact of any transport policy needs to consider unintended consequences. A change in the design of the congestion charge, or introduction of other policies, may be needed to achieve reductions in motorcycle and bicycle casualties. We would like to extend this research to examine the western expansion of the charging zone and the increase in the fee to £8 to see what further impact there may have been on casualties."

Commenting about the study, Loughborough University's Dr Mohammed Quddus said:

"A range of advanced statistical models were applied to the data and they all obtained a very similar result. More detailed modal and spatial analyses are required to fully understand the safety impacts of the London congestion charge."

The study was conducted by Imperial College London's Dr Robert Noland and Professor Washington Ochieng from the Centre for Transport Studies in collaboration with Dr Mohammed Quddus from Loughborough University.

###

For further information please contact:

Colin Smith
Press Officer
Imperial College London
Email: cd.smith@imperial.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)207 594 6712
Out of hours duty press officer: +44 (0)7803 886 248

Notes to Editors:

1. "The effect of the London congestion charge on road casualties: an intervention analysis"

The full listing of authors and their affiliations for the Transportation paper is as follows:

Robert B. Noland(1), Mohammed A. Quddus (2), Washington Y. Ochieng(1)

(1) Centre for Transport Studies, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London, London, SW7 2AZ, England (2) Transport Studies Group, Department of Civil and Building Engineering, Loughborough University, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, UK

2. Transportation web address: http://www.springerlink.com/content/103007/

3. About Imperial College London Rated as the world's ninth best university in the 2006 Times Higher Education Supplement University Rankings, Imperial College London is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research that attracts 11,500 students and 6,000 staff of the highest international quality. Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and management and delivers practical solutions that improve quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.

With 66 Fellows of the Royal Society among our current academic staff and distinguished past members of the College including 14 Nobel Laureates and two Fields Medallists, Imperial's contribution to society has been immense.

Inventions and innovations include the discovery of penicillin, the development of holography and the foundations of fibre optics. This commitment to the application of our research for the benefit of all continues today with current focuses including interdisciplinary collaborations to tackle climate change and mathematical modelling to predict and control the spread of infectious diseases.

The College's 100 years of living science will be celebrated throughout 2007 with a range of events to mark the Centenary of the signing of Imperial's founding charter on 8 July 1907.

Website: www.imperial.ac.uk

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.