Car-free households rise in London

London has bucked the national trend with even fewer households owning cars over the past decade, according to the census.

We should be building cities that make life better, and car-dependent cities don’t offer that. Cities should be places where getting a pint of milk doesn’t involve paying out for petrol, but rather a nice stroll to a local shop where perhaps you meet a neighbour along the way. Where the morning commute isn’t sitting behind a lorry in gridlock, but getting some exercise on the bike or reading the paper on the way in. And where going to the pub doesn’t mean the risk of getting behind the wheel whilst intoxicated, but knowing there will be public transport as a safe means of getting home.

When Ken Livingstone and I entered office at the beginning of the last decade, we set about implementing a vision of London where you didn’t need a car to get around. We made massive investments in buses and bus routes, encouraged cycling, and started a rail renaissance, complementing these measures with the congestion charge.

Now we’re seeing how this has paid off. While the average number of cars and vans increased everywhere else in England and Wales from 2001 to 2011, in London there was a rise in the number of households that went car-free. In the 14 inner London boroughs, car-free households increased from 50.6 per cent to 56.7 per cent. The trend held in the traditionally more car-oriented 19 boroughs of outer London as well, where 30.7 per cent of households are now car-free compared to 28.5 per cent a decade ago.


About nickygavron

Former Deputy Mayor of London. London Assembly Member, Chair of Planning Committee, and GLA Labour Spokesperson for Planning. NPF Member.
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4 Responses to Car-free households rise in London

  1. Paul says:

    I suspect part of the reason for a drop in car use is more to do with the recession, rising petrol prices and the congestion charge which is outrageous in my opinion. Speaking of which why is it that in order to find out if you have entered the congestion charge you have to pay £10 and if the result is that you haven’t crossed into it you lose the money anyway. This has more to do with theft on your behalf than any attempt to make London a “cleaner, greener city”.
    While I’m at it do you still believe in the myth of Man – made climate change? If so can you explain exactly why?
    I’m not holding my breath.

  2. Anon says:

    Your vision “of London where you didn’t need a car to get around” is one I share (up to a point).

    Many of us don’t have a good selection of shops within walking distance. London Councils have turned entire areas into Residents Parking Zones. It means driving traffic will not stop by and explore shops. Councils have made life difficult for small shops. Many of the goods ones have shut down. How can they survive. They are replaced by lower quality, as they have to content with lower sales. Some councils complain of degredation of their high street, with excessive take-ways, pound shops, betting shops and other cheap tat shops.

    • nickygavron says:

      You raise very important points about the fortunes of small shops, and the larger issues of the future of our town centres. This issue has come to the forefront even more in the past week, when we’ve tragically seen beloved high street chains like Jessops, HMV, and Blockbuster shut down or put into administration.

      I absolutely share your concern for the future of London’s town centres. That’s why, as chair of the Assembly’s Planning Committee, I launched an investigation into this very issue. Since December, the committee has been looking at the problem and exploring different visions for the future of our town centres in an age of internet shopping, out-of-town centres with their free parking and massive stocks, and other trends, as well as the overall economic climate. You can learn more about the investigation at

  3. Anon says:

    I met a businessman, who took over the family firm. He was a supplier of goods to small shops. I asked him how his business was doing?. He said he closed it down. He said “What’s the point? By the time you get out of the car you end up with a £60 parking ticket”.

    I know they are struggling. I am sure they are surviving on their life savings. They have too much pride to rely on the state. But is all dwindling away….

    It takes people time to adjust to new situations, byt the time they figure it out, they won’t have the money to start a new business…

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