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Average speed of traffic in London today: 8 mph. Average speed of a London horse-drawn carriage in 1900: 8 mph. Every schoolchild knows that, don't they?

Average speed of traffic in London today: 8 mph. Average speed of a London horse-drawn carriage in 1900: 8 mph. Every schoolchild knows that, don't they?

We are all only too aware of the problem of traffic congestion in our big cities. But the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions, that eternal font of cheer, has suggested that one of the great givens of modern life – that traffic jams always get worse and always expand to fill the roads available – may not be as secure as we thought. The good news is that average speeds on trunk roads have in fact gone up in the last few years. Average rush-hour motorway speed has risen from 56 to 59mph since 1998. Va-voom! It's enough to get the adrenaline pumping and have you reaching for the keys of your hairy-chested roadster. Trunk-road speeds are up from 49mph to 51mph; Va-va voom!

So, even as you may find yourself temporarily detained in the traditional British bank-holiday hold-up, reflect for a moment on that news and rejoice. Yes, New Labour can deliver, and things can only get better, even if only on Britain's magnificent, twisty A-roads.

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