Mid Wales in pole position for open road driving

Mid Wales residents are able to experience the freedom of an open road more than any other part of mainland Britain.

Mid Wales enjoys more open roads than anywhere else in the country
Mid Wales enjoys more open roads than anywhere else in the country

New figures show why so many people head across the border into the region, when lockdown measures allow.

Powys has 40.5 metres of road per person – more than any other local authority area in mainland Britain, analysis of Department for Transport data has revealed.

Its 132,400 inhabitants share nearly 5.4 million metres of road, covering destinations such as the Brecon Beacons and market town Machynlleth.

The roads are currently even quieter than normal due to Wales being in a coronavirus lockdown.

They compare to urban areas of the West Midlands, with Birmingham only having 2.3 metres of road per person.

The list of local authority areas reveal Shropshire has 16.1 metres of road per person, while the figure for Telford & Wrekin is just 5.9m.

Mid Wales beats off the most remote areas of Scotland for open roads.

Highland is the area with the second most length of road per person, followed by Argyll and Bute, Dumfries and Galloway, and Ceredigion. They all have more than 30 metres.

AA president Edmund King said: “This analysis shows why the producers of car programmes such as Top Gear or The Grand Tour, and car reviewers from motoring magazines, seek out the beautiful and quiet roads of Mid and North Wales or the Highlands and islands of Scotland.

“Drivers are often more likely to come across sheep than other vehicles on these stunning roads as the metres of road per population are at the highest.”

North Wales was praised for having “some of the best driving roads in Europe” by Top Gear host Chris Harris in the latest episode of the BBC One show. “It’s a playground for cars,” he added.

The roads of Wales became congested over the summer as people crossed the border looking for a staycation break.

Joys

It led to some isolated routes in Snowdonia being clogged with parked cars, with police resorting to issuing fines and towing some cars away. as the national park struggled to cope.

Across the Shropshire border, Herefordshire is the highest-ranked English entry on the list with 17.4 metres, down from 18.3 metres in 2009.

Around 90 per cent of local authority areas have seen a reduction in road length per person over the past decade.

This is because populations have increased at 10 times the rate of road building.

The figures are based on road lengths and populations recorded in 2019 in local authority areas in mainland Britain.

It excludes authorities consisting only of islands, such as the Scottish areas of Eilean Siar (47.8 metres per person), Orkney Islands (47.6 metres per person) and Shetland Islands (45.2 metres per person).

The analysis does not include the impact of people driving in areas they do not live in, such as commuters, leisure visitors and delivery drivers.

The 28 areas with the lowest amount of road per person are in London.

This is led by Tower Hamlets, which is the only location with less than one metre.

Data from traffic information supplier Inrix shows that London is the eighth most congested city in the world, with drivers spending an average of 149 hours stuck in traffic last year.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “For most of us the joys of a traffic-free, open road are a far cry from our everyday driving experience, though these figures show there are still places where driving might be more of a pleasure than a chore.”

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