12 May 2023

Road statistics highlight reliance on local roads

Traffic on local roads is returning to pre-pandemic levels faster than on either the strategic road network or railways.

That’s just one of the trends highlighted on RoadFile, the online hub of road-related statistics delivered by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA).

The latest collated data forms part of a comprehensive update of publicly available information for the UK and Europe from sources such as the Department for Transport (DfT) and Eurostat.

RoadFile presents key information in an easy-to-use format with options to download the data to facilitate further analysis. It covers a broad range of topics such as road network, usage, funding, environment and safety.

The data shows that road-traffic (vehicle miles) in Great Britain was, unsurprisingly, significantly lower in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19 related restrictions.  A 21% decline in all road traffic is reported in 2020 compared to 2019, with buses and coaches seeing a 33% drop. Car and taxi traffic fell by 25% in the same period, while HGV traffic fell by just 6%. Usage of pedal cycles increased by 50% in 2020 on 2019 levels – but this was not sustained, with the reported data showing a subsequent drop off in 2021.

Traffic levels in Great Britain in 2021 overall were at 83% of pre-pandemic levels, but, significantly, traffic on minor roads in 2021 had recovered to 91% of pre-pandemic levels, compared to 85% on the motorway network.

For comparison, Roadfile also highlights that rail passenger numbers in 2021 were 60% of pre-pandemic levels, while funding statistics also show that for every pound from the public purse spent on the UK’s railways in 2022, less than half of that amount (45 pence) was spent on roads.

“RoadFile is widely used by those across the highways sector and beyond as it collates a wealth of road-related information in one, easy-to-access platform,” said AIA Chair Rick Green.

“It highlights the reliance, across all types of road transport, that we have in Great Britain and continues to raise questions about why local roads authorities in particular don’t receive a fairer deal when it comes to highway maintenance funding, to keep them resilient and fit for purpose.”

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