THE BLOG
17/09/2015 11:42 BST | Updated 17/09/2016 06:12 BST

London Crowned Europe's Most Congested City as Mayor Predicts the Worst Is Yet to Come

London became Europe's most congested city in 2014 with drivers spending 96 hours in traffic, according to a recent report by traffic monitoring agency Inrix. This means London has leapfrogged previous biggest loser Brussels to claim this year's gridlock gold medal.

This is hardly heartening news and Londoners will be alarmed to learn that London Mayor Boris Johnson expects the situation to deteriorate further. According to Transport for London (TfL) - his transport authority - parts of Woolwich and Newham will have been inundated by up to fifty per cent more traffic by 2031 if the Mayor relaxes parking regulations and embarks on road construction projects such as the £1bn Silvertown Tunnel.

Opposition to that particular trunk road scheme is galvanising. On his LBC radio show, the Mayor recently branded anyone against his pet road projects "eco nuts". But this couldn't be further from the truth. In recent months hundreds of ordinary east Londoners have united in a grassroots, common sense movement against the damaging Silvertown plans.

Instead of having their community bored into, concreted over and tunnelled under they want new bus routes and safe cycle lanes to be introduced. They want green streets that are pleasant to walk around and they want the DLR or London Overground to extend further into south east London. There is nothing extreme about that.

The filthy east London air already exceeds legal pollution limits as thousands of cars traverse the borough or sit idling at one bottleneck or another. Many drivers are just passing through but it is local people who suffer the consequences.

Darryl Chamberlain is a community campaigner in Greenwich strongly opposed to the Silvertown Tunnel plans.

"The pollution's a blight - from affecting people's health to leaving dirty soot over the front of people's homes. I grew up next to the Blackwall Tunnel approach - you don't need to tell me it's a problem, because I've lived with it all my life. Any Mayor who took pollution and congestion seriously would bin this scheme."

Indeed, research shows that air pollution can make existing heart conditions worse and causes cardiovascular problems for vulnerable people. That the Mayor is planning to exacerbate the situation by plonking new motorways on Greenwich could land him in legal hot water - the even more toxic air would continue to breach EU limits long into the future, with council coffers raided to pay the fines imposed.

In response to TfL's ill-conceived plans, a clear message from the community has emerged: NO to a toxic urban motorway and NO to the tsunami of traffic it would inflict on some of London's poorest neighbourhoods.

Between 2000 and 2011 traffic reduced across London whilst the population and economy both boomed so we know that more vehicles taking to the roads is not inevitable as London grows.

Expanding the bus network, making fares cheaper, keeping a lid on parking and providing better cycling facilities are just some of the measures the Mayor should have taken in response to TfL's traffic predictions. The next Mayor has a choice to make.

They could build roads and worsen London's congestion and pollution problems, or they could scrap the Silvertown Tunnel and aim to reduce traffic instead.

Darren Johnson AM recently produced an interactive map, based on TfL's own traffic projections, exploring the implications of increased congestion for London: http://www.howcongestedismyroad.org.uk