This project’s main aim is to improve air quality, though improvements in congestion should be a logical benefit to many of the measures under the Clean Air Plan. Although more congestion means slower-moving traffic (which can make air pollution worse), efforts focusing on reducing congestion (without efforts to encourage a shift to cleaner vehicles) are very unlikely to bring NO2 pollution below accepted levels in the shortest time possible.
Removing traffic lights to reduce congestion is a complex issue. Traffic lights are a useful means of managing conflicting traffic demands at a particular junction and (when coordinated correctly) across wider network areas. Some of the non-charging measures being considered as part of the Plan consider traffic management tools.
However, we must note that in addition to smoothing traffic flows, traffic lights bring important safety benefits for pedestrians and cyclists who have designated phases to cross the road. Removing traffic lights could therefore make it more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists, without necessarily removing congestion.