Car journeys on Midlothian's roads fell by a quarter last year

The number of miles covered by cars in Midlothian plummeted by a quarter last year due to the coronavirus lockdown, figures show.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 2:46 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 3:52 pm
The deserted streets of Penicuik at the start of the first lockdown. Pic Lisa Ferguson 24/03/2020.

Last year saw the fewest miles driven on the area's roads by motorists since 1993, when records began.

But any respite in traffic levels will soon be over, says the RAC, which predicts a busy summer on the roads as restrictions are eased.

Data from the Department for Transport shows cars and taxis covered an estimated 263 million miles on Midlothian's roads during 2020.

That was 25 per cent fewer than in 2019 when 350 million miles were covered.

It was a similar picture across Great Britain with the number of miles of car journeys also down 25 per cent.

The DfT said the figures were heavily impacted by the effects of the coronavirus, with restrictions on travel in place through many months of last year.

Yet early indications from the Government show traffic could return to 2019 levels as lockdown is eased. And the RAC has said it has already noticed an increase in vehicles on the road this year, adding it expected a busy summer.

Nicholas Lyes, head of policy, said: “With traffic now creeping back up to near-normal levels and restrictions due to ease further in the next few weeks, we expect it to be a busy summer on the roads.”

But the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK, a group which represents the bus and coach industry, says it hopes people do not return to their cars. Instead, it hopes to encourage people to use public transport.

Alison Edwards, head of policy at the group, said: “Without this we will see greater congestion slowing our economic recovery along with worsening air quality and increased carbon emissions.”

However, the RAC said its research had showed lockdown had strengthened the importance people place in owning a car.

The figures from the DfT also show car travel made up 75 per cent of all road miles in Midlothian in 2020, with lorries and commercial vans making up the rest. The total millage for all traffic was 350 million miles, down 22 per cent from 2019.

The DfT said a fall in the number of miles driven on our roads had coincided with fewer accidents and faster journey times on major roads.

A spokesperson said work was being done with transport operators to ensure “good levels of service” as the pandemic eases.