I wrote to Tfl asking for clarification on some of the data in the London Travel Report (email@example.com or Londonstreets@tfl.gov.uk).
They write, “Chart 3.5.5 in the London Travel Report (LTR) shows that the areas with higher percentages of journey to work by cycling coincide with the Thames in west and central London, which may indicate why the Thames crossings show a higher percentage than the average. Conversely, figure 3.5.5 shows areas of outer London with very low levels which is in agreement with the cycle flows we observe in outer London. However, the percentages obtained from the total cycle flows observed on screenlines, including the Thames, may be different to the percentages of commuting cyclists.
“Further information on the numbers of cyclists crossing all screenlines and cordons is available at the following link. In summary, this shows that in 2005 cycle percentages were 0.35% for the boundary cordon, 1.7% for the inner London cordon and 6.7% for the central London cordon. Again this is in broad agreement with figure 3.5.5.”
The latest Tfl data shows 18,000 cyclists entering central London in the morning peak against 78,000 people by car in 2006. There was also a slight reduction in the number of cyclists crossing the Thames screenline, in 2007, at 39,000 down from 43,000 in 2006. It is not clear what caused this.
Another way of looking at the data is to ignore rail and tube and focus on the totals for road users. Not only do cars take up a disproportionate amount of road space for the number of people carried (in addition to the accidents and pollution) but also taxis seem extraordinarily wasteful. Why are taxis given such priority?
Buses: 116,000 (47.9%)
Cars: 78,000 (32.2%)
Cycles: 18,000 (7.4%)
Motorcycles: 15,000 (6.2%)
Coaches/Minibuses: 8,000 (3.3%)
Taxis: 7,000 (2.9%)
Total: 242,000 (100.0%)
(Table 1.3.1: People entering central London in the morning peak, 2007)
Overall it is very hard to deduce a lot from the cycling data as different sources with different definitions are used for each of the tables. The one thing we can say with certainty is that more comprehensive and consistent data is needed.