Best locations for finding an open road revealed

Mid Wales residents are the most likely to experience the freedom of an open road, according to new research.

Powys has 40.5 metres of road per person which is more than any other local authority area in mainland Britain, analysis of Department for Transport data by the PA news agency revealed.

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

(PA Graphics) Credit: PA Graphics

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

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.

Drivers are often more likely to come across sheep than other vehicles on these stunning roads

AA president Edmund King

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.

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

Around 90% 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.

Lay-bys were closed in the Brecon Beacons in March as part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic Credit: Ben Birchall/PA

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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