London one of worst capitals in Europe for clean, safe transport, study shows

London is trailing behind other major European capitals in its effort to create a clean, affordable and safe transport system, according to a new report.

The study of 13 EU cities found London has the second worst air quality after Moscow, as well as the most expensive public transport and the highest number of cycling accidents.

Copenhagen came out top followed by Amsterdam, Oslo and Zurich. London comes third from bottom, performing better than Rome and Moscow but worse than many other leading European cities including Madrid, Paris and Berlin.

Paul Morozzo, from Greenpeace which commissioned environmental consultants at the Wuppertal Institute in Germany to carry out the study, said: “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. [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 study analysed a range of factors – from the share of the population walking, cycling and using public transport to road safety for cyclists and pedestrians as well as air pollution.

London scored well on “mobility management” – including car sharing, low-emission zones and a public transport phone app – but badly on road safety. The analysis found the UK capital was the second most unsafe city to walk or cycle in, with 251 accidents per 10,000 bike trips, against 113 in Paris and just 14 in Madrid.

Copenhagen came first in road safety, second in air quality behind Oslo and first in mobility management.


Last week it emerged that London mayor, Sadiq Khan, is considering introducing car-free days in the capital and will set out plans for the ultra low emissions zone to charge the most polluting vehicles imminently. But he has been criticised for pushing ahead with the new £1bn Silvertown tunnelunder the Thames which critics say will increase air pollution.

The study said it ranked cities on available data and did not take “innovative policies” or the “commitment of city leadership” into account.

Shirley Rodrigues, London’s deputy mayor for environment and energy, said Khan was “introducing some of the most ambitious measures of any major city in the world.”

“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.”

The UK government has been widely criticised for failing to act decisively on air pollution. Last week it was one of five nations referred to Europe’s highest court for failing to tackle illegal levels of air pollution. And its latest air pollution plans were rejected for the third time in the courts earlier this year and condemned as “woefully inadequate” by city leaders and “inexcusable” by doctors.

Morozzo said central government needed to take urgent action. “London needs the crucial support of central government to really solve its air pollution crisis. Instead of spending huge amounts of money on building more roads, ministers should redirect it towards boosting public transport and cycling while setting a deadline of 2030 for ending the sales of petrol and diesel cars.”

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