Pandemic 'could lead to rise in road traffic levels'


Traffic levels in some of the UK’s largest cities have nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels, new data has revealed.

Traffic in Sheffield, January 2021

The research, published by Siemens Mobility Limited in partnership with HERE Technologies, shows that traffic across major cities in January 2021 was at 83.4% of the levels seen before COVID-19 despite the lockdown measures in place.

This data has sparked concerns that the pandemic will not have any lasting downward effect on air pollution as some cities saw an increase in road traffic as people avoided using public transport.

Bristol and Sheffield recorded increases in road traffic of 1.8% and 0.9% respectively in October last year compared to February.

Wilke Reints, managing director intelligent traffic systems at Siemens Mobility Limited, said: 'This data lays to rest the idea that the pandemic might have a long-lasting effect to improve air quality. In fact, the picture the data is increasingly painting is that it could actually increase traffic levels as people return to work choosing their cars over public transport.

'What’s more, we know that Clean Air Zones work. In London, after just ten months of operation, reports showed that NO2 emissions from road transport in the central zone had reduced by 44%, a direct result of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone. However, we must see action across the country, benefiting all those who live in urban areas to help ensure a green post-pandemic recovery.'

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