I presented a paper (Metz ETC 15-9-13) at the recent European Transport Conference held in Frankfurt. This shows how car use in London rose from about 5% of all journeys in 1950 to 50% by 1990 – no surprise there. But then it started falling, to 38% currently, and projected to fall further to 30% before 2040. This is surprising since car use has always risen with growing incomes. However, in London we have not built new road capacity, which has constrained car use to a steady 10m trips a day for each of the past 20 years. But because the population has been growing, these car trips represent a declining share of all travel. This is the clearest illustration of the phenomenon of Peak Car.
I also suggest that growing cities in developing countries, where car use is still low, may be able to avoid this peak and move directly to a more sustainable level of around 30% for a city of 10m. The key policies to achieve this are to provide rail travel for work journeys since this can get business and professional people out of their cars, and limit parking in the city centre to keep buses, taxis, good delivery and emergency vehicles moving.