Leeds named one of the worst UK cities for traffic jams

Drivers in Leeds saw congestion increase two per cent last year, according to new figures.

By Alexandra Wood
Monday, 3rd June 2019, 5:12 pm
Traffic jams are getting worse in Leeds - in part because of congestion on the M62 and M621
Traffic jams are getting worse in Leeds - in part because of congestion on the M62 and M621

Analysis by sat-nav manufacturer TomTom has revealed that Leeds is the 15th most congested city in the UK, with a typical rush hour journey taking 27 per cent longer compared with free-flow conditions.

Edinburgh was ranked the worst in the UK for congestion, with an average extra travel time of 40 per cent, followed by London, and then Bournemouth, Hull and Belfast in joint third.

Hundreds of scooters were given to primary schools across Leeds in February as part of a scheme to tackle air pollution and protect the health of children in the city

TomTom believes increasing congestion on surrounding motorways are a major factor in traffic jams in Leeds.

The slowest speeds recorded last year for driving in Leeds in 2018 was February 28, with driving snow and icy conditions caused by the Beast from the East probably to blame.

On average, UK motorists driving in peak hours spend an extra five-and-a-half days stuck in traffic each year.

Heiko Schilling, head of navigation at TomTom, said: "Overall congestion is up by an average of one per cent (year on year) in the UK - a mild increase but an increase nonetheless.

"Only Manchester, Glasgow and Portsmouth have seen congestion levels improve.

"These results show that there's still a lot of work to be done."

He added: "Advances in journey planning, autonomous vehicles and car sharing schemes all promise to alleviate congestion in Edinburgh and other cities in the UK and around the world."

Leeds City Council said: “Leeds is the second largest city outside London and we acknowledge the impact congestion has on the people who live and work in the city, as well as the economy and quality of life.

"We are working hard to tackle congestion and committed to improving transport infrastructure in ways that will help reduce congestion.

“However, to do so effectively will require greater devolved powers so we can both develop local solutions and work with neighbouring authorities to plan better integrated transport solutions for the future.

"Improving transport takes significant long-term funding, and without consistent investment from central government to support both planning and delivery, it has been a challenge for Leeds and many other local authorities to provide the solutions we might have hoped.”

In world rankings Leeds came 148th out of 403 cities.

The latest figures come amid increasing concern about levels of air pollution in the UK, which is estimated to cut short the lives of around 40,000 people a year, mainly through undermining the health of people with heart or lung problems.

In many big UK cities safe limits on harmful particulates and oxides of nitrogen are regularly breached.

Recent statistics from Defra show that in 2018 Leeds city centre had 16 "moderate" or above average days when pollution levels were considered dangerous.

It compares to 12 in 2017 and 10 in 2016, although in 2011 there were 30 days.

Although diesel cars are much more polluting than petrol cars, gas for heating homes and offices is another source of pollution, along with buses, taxis, industry and other machinery.