[Introducing] Waze City Spotlight: London

Big Ben is a bell, not a clock. Happy new year. 

Image © 2014 Mark A. Paulda

In a feature that is soon to be recurring, we take a look at cities around the world to figure out what it’s like to drive there.

What is a normal commute? When are accidents reported the most? Which holidays or major events impact a city? We’ll seek to answer these questions (and more) based on the immense data Waze users volunteer to the app.

We begin with London, one of the world’s oldest and largest cities.

It’s Friday, You’re in Traffic

We all speculate on the worst days to drive- the day before a major Holiday; during Parades; rush hour, etc. What day is the worst in London? Friday.

On average, Fridays have the most active users, the longest drive times (53 minutes) and the second-highest number of traffic reports (it’s a close second to Thursday). If you’re going to work from home in London, do it Thursday or Friday. Average speeds are lower, reports of traffic are higher and there are more people on the road. Major city events tend to happen on those days too, and the data shows they drastically impact traffic.

Thousands of people show up every year for the Vauxhall Gardens Halloween Fireworks show in downtown London.

Last year there were some major holidays that fell on Fridays, like Halloween.  Each year they host a fireworks display in the city center at the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, which thousands typically attend. Add in that it’s a Friday night and factor in all of the other Halloween shenanigans and you’ve got some serious traffic: average speeds dropped to 19 km/h, meaning on average it took an hour and a half to go 30 kilometers. Yikes.

Just a week later, the Friday of Remembrance Day weekend (November 7) in London had more Wazers on the road than any other day in 2014. By no coincidence, an installation featuring a sea of over 800 million poppies surrounded the Tower of London and attracted millions of people to downtown.

It’s no secret that major events and holidays result in more traffic. The other notable Fridays include the largest reporting day of 2014, November 14 (which was the day of a football match between the US & Colombia) and December 19, the Friday before Christmas. And though the Tuesday before Christmas took the #2 spot for active usage, Christmas Day itself was the quietest. Not a Wazer was reporting. This didn’t stop December from being a big month for driving – London Wazers drove more kilometers in December than any other month of the year.

Paul Cummins’ Remembrance Day installation drew millions, and accounted for the most active day on Waze in 2014. Photo courtesy of Instagram user HumberbeatRoads. More at http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/nearly-4-million-people-have-visited-an-installation-at-the-tower-of-london-to-mark-wwi/story-e6frfq80-1227117166454 

High Expectations For Sunday

Sunday seems like the most relaxing day in London, perfect for long drives in the country. The average drive on Sundays is longer than any other day of the week at 32 km. Average speeds are the highest out of the entire week at 38 km/h, but that may have something to do with less drivers on the road, since Sunday is the least active day.

Speaking of least active, the highest instance of inactivity falls on Sunday, April 20. This “effect” seems to extend to the next day, April 21, as speeds are higher then any other day in April or all of 2014. 

Weather Woes

There’s a Mad Men Episode where one of the characters notes that “There is no fog in London.” London Wazers would heavily disagree, with “Heavy Fog” being the 2nd-most reported weather hazard after Rain. Though January and March are pretty “foggy”, April comes out the winner. Maybe T.S. Eliot was right. April 1st was the worst day for Fog according to Wazers…or was it?!?!

Monday October 13th was the rainiest day in London, and October is the rainiest month in London according to Wazers (and the local weather bureaus). November is however a very, very close second.

April is the cruelest month…for fog. 

London by the numbers:

  • Total # Reports: 2,715,228
    • % Traffic: 77%
    • % Accidents: <2%
  • Average Drive Distance (M-F): 28.7 km
  • Average Drive Time (M-F): 51 Minutes
  • Average Speed (M-F): 34 km/h
  • Driven KM: 302,239,350
  • Most Active Date: Friday, November 7
  • Most Active Day: Friday
  • Least Active Date: Sunday, April 20
  • Least Active Day: Sunday

If you like what you’re reading, make sure to subscribe and check out our other articles here on Data-Waze. Going forward, we’ll have at least one city per week plus data-rich feature articles. And every once in a while, we find something cool enough from around the internet to share.

Next up – Paris!