Roads

Responsibility for managing London's road network is shared between TfL, the Highways Agency, and the 32 London boroughs, plus the City of London.

  • We manage the TfL Road Network (the TLRN or London's 'red routes') and are responsible for the maintenance, management and operation of the Capital's 6,000+ sets of traffic signals
  • The Highways Agency manages the national motorway network, including the M25 orbital motorway and the M1, M4 and M11
  • The London boroughs are responsible for all the remaining roads within their boundaries

How TfL manages London's roads

The way we manage our roads is based on extensive research, modelling and the most up-to-date computer technology.

Red routes

Key routes, such as the A40 or A406 (North Circular), are at the heart of London's road network and are known as red routes. They are marked with either single or double red lines.

Our responsibility for the daily maintenance and smooth running of these routes includes: responding quickly to incidents, such as floods and road traffic accidents; repairing defects, such as potholes, damaged signs or defective street lighting and gritting the roads during the winter.

Traffic Control Centre

We monitor the road network continuously to ensure we respond rapidly to incidents and congestion. We do this through the London Streets Traffic Control Centre (LSTCC) which has access to more than 3,500 traffic cameras.

The cameras let us see how traffic is flowing and what measures are needed to help when delays happen. Traffic controllers can temporarily change the timings at more than half of London's traffic signals to help reduce queues.

Forty cameras fitted with special image-recognition technology monitor traffic hotspots across London. These intelligent cameras automatically spot and alert our traffic control centre when congestion builds up so operators can identify and deal with incidents quickly.

See traffic cameras on a map. (Click the menu in the top right-hand corner of the map to select the cameras option).

We use electronic road signs to alert drivers to disruption and to give advance warning of future disruptions due to roadworks or large events.

At the LSTCC we also coordinate our response to major incidents and oversee road closures during events, such as the London Marathon. We have a network of partners who help get roads back to normal after disruptive incidents, including TfL's highways emergency response teams who fix damaged roads and clear up after accidents, flooding or spillages.

The LSTCC is part of a larger operations centre which includes the control rooms for London Buses and the Metropolitan Police. It means we can share information quickly and take coordinated decisions and actions that would best respond to a disruption on London's roads.

Traffic lights

We control all of London's traffic lights. We can change the length of time a light is green or red, which means we can clear an unexpected queue at a junction quicker, or control cars moving into an already congested area to avoid gridlock.

Realtime information

Live traffic information is supplied directly to London's media - the BBC and global radio (for travel broadcasts), satellite navigation companies such as Tomtom and Trafficmaster and other third parties, including web and app developers. It allows people to plan or re-route their journeys and means traffic in the affected area is reduced, allowing us to get roads moving again faster.

You can access this information at any time via traffic status updates and on Twitter, by following @TfLTrafficNews.

Roadworks

To reduce disruption caused by roadworks, we run a lane rental scheme and charge those carrying out works up to £2,500 a day for working in the most congested areas or at busy times. This encourages work to be completed during quieter times, and more quickly.

Revenue raised by lane rental is reinvested in further innovative measures such as using fast-drying cement, large-scale plates to cover excavations and noise-reducing technologies.

More than 87% of utility roadworks at traffic hotspots are now taking place outside of peak traffic hours, compared to around 30% before the scheme was introduced in 2012. This figure is 99% for TfL roadworks.

We are also responsible for assessing around 88,000 permit applications each year to ensure that jobs are fully coordinated to minimise disruption.

You can report a problem with roadworks, road defects such as potholes or issues with traffic lights and street lighting, using our online reporting system, Report IT.

Improving the road network

We have a continuous programme of improvements taking place across the Capital's road network.

Smart traffic signals

There are around 6,400 sets of traffic signals in London. More than 80% of these work using a sophisticated computer system called SCOOT, or 'Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique', proven to reduce delays at junctions by 12% on average.

The technology works using sensors buried within the road, which detect vehicles passing over them. Calculating traffic demand on a second-by-second basis, the system then works out the best timings for traffic signals in a coordinated way, minimising wasted green light time at junctions and reducing stops and delays for general traffic.

The SCOOT system can identify buses within the road network and is able to give them priority through traffic signals. We are leading the world in our development of this technology to enable priority for pedestrians and cyclists as policy directs.

In central London around 95% of junctions have been fitted with the technology. By 2018 virtually all junctions will be operating under SCOOT control.

Roads Task Force

The Roads Task Force (RTF) was set up by then-Mayor Boris Johnson to tackle the challenges facing the London's streets and roads.

The RTF report published in July 2013 sets out a vision of how London can cope with major population growth and remain one of the most vibrant, accessible and attractive world cities.

See red route maps.

London Highways Alliance

The London Highways Alliance is a joint initiative between TfL and London's boroughs to collaborate on highway management, both in road maintenance and in the design and construction of new schemes.

The Alliance's common specification contracts allow us to deliver work in a more efficient and coordinated way, ensuring greater value for money and ultimately the delivery of a better road network for all.

Find out more about the London Highways Alliance.

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