London one of the most polluted and dangerous cities in Europe when it comes to transport and road safety, report finds

London transport is among the most expensive, dangerous and least clean in Europe, according to a new study.

London one of the most polluted and dangerous cities in Europe when it comes to transport and road safety, report finds

The report, by environmental consultants at the Wuppertal Institute in Germany and commissioned by Greenpeace, analysed the road safety, air pollution and transport cost across 13 EU cities. The results do not show London in its best light, with the UK capital receiving an overall rank of joint third worst – lower than Amsterdam, Madrid, Paris and Brussels. Rome is the worst city of them all.

The results pin London as the second to worst in terms of road safety – beaten only by Rome – with 22.3 accidents per 1,000,000 bike trips in the UK capital, compared to 9.1 in Paris and 1.6 in Madrid. 

“London has a reputation as a fast-moving city, but its efforts to boost clean, safe and affordable transport are trundling behind other EU capitals,” Greenpeace’s Paul Morozzo told The Guardian.

“[London mayor] Sadiq Khan has shown real commitment in tackling air pollution – now more needs to be done to make cycling safer and public transport better and cheaper.”

The report is based on a number of different factors, from the proportion of a city’s population cycling and using public transport, to air pollution levels and road safety scores.

It isn’t all bad news from London. While the capital had a low rank for road safety, it scored second for “mobility management”, encompassing low-emission zones, transport apps and car sharing schemes.

The report comes in the wake of revealed plans from London’s city hall for “car-free days”, as a way to prioritise walking, cycling and public transport. 2019 will also see the introduction of an ultra-low-emission zone to replace the central London T-Charge, as a way to help improve air quality.

“Tackling London’s filthy air is one of the mayor’s top priorities, which is why he is introducing some of the most ambitious measures of any major city in the world,” said Shirley Rodrigues, deputy mayor for environment and energy. 

“But the mayor can’t tackle this alone. The government needs to show some real ambition. They should freeze the fares they control, lift the ban on London accessing the National Clean Air Fund, and give City Hall the powers to tackle other sources of air pollution.”

Lilli Matson, director of transport strategy for Transport for London (TfL), noted that the number of deaths on London’s roads fell to their lowest ever level in 2016, but admitted that work to reduce road danger must continue:

“This is why we’re committed to working in partnership with the police and London boroughs to achieve the Vision Zero ambition of creating a road network free from death and serious injury by 2041.

“This includes investing in safer junctions and removing the most dangerous Heavy Goods Vehicles from London’s roads through our Direct Vision Standard, which is the first scheme in the world that rates HGVs by how much a driver can see directly from their cab. We’re also supporting London’s 33 boroughs to transform their roads with funding such as our multi-million-pound Liveable Neighbourhoods scheme.”

Elsewhere, the UK government has today published a new clean air strategy, which it claims will reduce the health costs of pollution to society by an estimated £1 billion every year by 2020. Labour has criticised the move as not doing enough, with shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman accusing the government of “dragging its feet by announcing yet another consultation”.

24/05/18: The cycling accident figures have been amended after the Wuppertal Institute discovered an error in its report. These do not affect any of the city’s rankings. 

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