Covent Garden traffic drops by 25% as councils look to make trial scheme permanent

Covent Garden traffic has reduced since trial scheme was introduced (Westminster City Council)
Covent Garden traffic has reduced since trial scheme was introduced (Westminster City Council)

Traffic levels in Covent Garden have dropped by as much as 25 per cent as Westminster and Camden councils look to make a trial scheme permanent in the area.

There has been a 10 to 25 per cent reduction in traffic levels across the central London district - depending on time of day - since the traffic management scheme was introduced in December 2021.

Cycling has increased by 15 to 30 per cent in the tourist hotspot, Westminster City Council said on Wednesday, and there has been as much as a 60 per cent reduction in traffic levels across the disctrict when measured against 2019.

The trial aimed to reduce traffic, cut carbon emissions, improve air quality and encourage more cycling and walking. It was developed in consultation with residents and business groups in Covent Garden.

It includes a number of changes to the direction of traffic on streets as well as access restrictions, including the closure of Covent Garden Piazza to all vehicles, except for deliveries, and specific pedestrian and cycle zones.

More than three quarters of survey respondents thought the scheme made walking easier and safer, and believe air quality would be improved in the area.

Seventy-five per cent thought it would be more pleasant to spend time in Covent Garden if the scheme should become permanent.

After 11 months of the trial, the Experiemental Traffic Order period is coming to an end.

The two councils are asking the public if the trial should become permanent. Visitors, residents and businesses can give feedback until December 16.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Cabinet Member for City Management and Air Quality said: “We want people to enjoy everything Covent Garden has to offer and we believe this proposed scheme will help reduce traffic, improve air quality, promote active travel by cycling and walking, enhance the public realm and improve safety in the area, which sees huge footfall numbers every day.

“We want to encourage everyone to give their feedback on this scheme so together we can create a more pleasant environment and a fairer Westminster that everyone can enjoy.”

Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet member for a Sustainable Camden at the London Borough of Camden said: “In Seven Dials, and across the iconic Covent Garden, we have been testing a series of changes since last year in response to the challenges that you have been telling us about. These include reducing the number of motor vehicles that use the area as a ‘rat run’, therefore improving Covent Garden for pedestrians and cyclists.

“In Camden, we have now also built on this trial with an aim of improving the Seven Dials area even more and would like you to have your say and share your views on a series of suggested improvements at the corner of Monmouth Street and Tower Street, including a cycle route, new paving, trees, seating and planting.”