To get a picture of congestion in Tower Hamlets and near to the borough’s
new road layouts we used data from Transport of London’s (TFL’s) bus journey
times. Our analysis of bus journey times and other data provided by TfL
shows that on Hackney Road and Bethnal Green Road, changes in journey times
are in line with general trends. In other words, they don’t look different
to other areas in Tower Hamlets.
There is no evidence of any impact on journey times on Bethnal Green Road or
Hackney Road Westbound from the LTNs. At the same time some other roads in
the borough, such as Whitechapel Road, far from the LTN zone, have become
slower than either of them.
Between 2019 and 2022, there has been a slightly greater slowing in the
speed of traffic on the Eastbound stretch of Hackney Road compared to other
similar roads in Tower Hamlets. Even here, the data shows that at most
the journey time to cover the entire stretch of road has increased by an
average of 30 seconds.
For several reasons, it is not possible or credible to attribute this slight
slowing of traffic to the Tower Hamlets LTN. In particular, this Eastbound
stretch of Hackney Road receives a lot of traffic from bordering Hackney,
which has also brought in changes to traffic management in the same time
period. Any analysis of changes in traffic flow would need to analyse the
impact of those changes as well.
Traffic patterns in Tower Hamlets have shifted around a great deal in the
last couple of years for many reasons. Besides the installations of LTNs in
Tower Hamlets we have seen several lockdowns, new ULEZ rules, and more cars
on the roads across the borough than in 2019. None of the evidence we have
seen supports the claim that congestion and delays in journey times have
increased enough to justify reversing the LTNs – especially given the
improvements in air quality across the borough.
A letter released to us through an FOI request to TfL
also points out that reversing the changes on the Old Bethnal Green Road
scheme, will potentially also have an impact on bus journey times and
congestion on Hackney Road. In an official letter to Lutfur Rahman, dated 28
July this year, Will Norman from TFL stated:
“...Removing the Old Bethnal Road scheme would prevent TfL
introducing a bus priority scheme on Hackney Road as cyclists who currently
benefit from the scheme would be forced back to use that road.”
In summary, there has been NO increase in journey times and delays on
boundary roads attributable to the Tower Hamlets LTNs and the potential
impact of removing the LTNs on bus travel and congestion could be a
worsening of traffic conditions on those roads.
We're aiming to provide detailed analysis on congestion in Bethnal Green
as soon as we can.