Bike commuters in London

Bike commuters in London.

Streetsblog, a network of sustainable-transportation-focused websites that you should read regularly, used the occasion of the 10th anniversary of London’s congestion pricing system to review its effectiveness. As you probably know, congestion pricing is a tool by which cities limit automobile and other traffic to certain areas by charging a fee for access. In London, that fee is £10, or about $15.

Has it worked? Streetsblog says yes — or, it did for a bit.

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In its first few years, the London charging scheme was heralded as a solid traffic-buster, with 15-20 percent boosts in auto and bus speeds and 30 percent reductions in congestion delays. Most of those gains appear to have disappeared in recent years, however. Transport for London (TfL), which combines the functions of our NYCDOT and MTA and which created and operates the charging system, attributes the fallback in speeds to other changes in the streetscape and traffic management …

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The congestion charge also raised millions in revenue, some $435 million in 2008 alone.

But the benefit over the past decade can be seen most clearly in the three maps Streetsblog provides.

Car traffic declines.
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Bicycle usage rises.
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Public transit use increases.
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Less traffic, less congestion, more public transit use, more money for government investment. All the sorts of things that drive right-wing Americans insane. So I wouldn’t hold my breath for implementation in a U.S. city any time soon.