Traffic in London surged on Wednesday, one day before a second lockdown was imposed across England.
Congestion data published by TomTom showed there were 1,200 miles of queues across the city's roads at 6pm, while 2,624 traffic jams were recorded.
The company reported that hold-ups in London from 5pm to 6pm on Wednesday reached the highest level recorded in data going back to May 2018.
A congestion level of 104% was recorded as many people visited friends, family, shops and restaurants in the hours before the new lockdown came into force.
Former MP George Galloway posted pictures of scores of cars stuck in a line in London, which he described as “traffic chaos”.
— George Galloway (@georgegalloway) November 4, 2020
Londoners on social media also reported high levels of traffic in the city as people attempted to leave before lockdown.
Mary Creagh, CEO at walking charity Living Streets tweeted: “Total traffic madness cycling home at 7pm.
Watch: Rush hour traffic sweeps London despite lockdown
“Tonight, everywhere is a high traffic neighbourhood.”
Others noted the unusually high levels of traffic in the capital, which one person was the worst they had seen in over 40 years.
The Gov't should have closed all non-essential shops at midday today. London is absolutely chaos tonight, as everyone with a car has jumped into it and gone out Christmas shopping. Now I have people telling me three Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in Hackney are the cause of this... pic.twitter.com/E84UjzvkNe
— Cllr Jon Burke (@jonburkeUK) November 4, 2020
Worst traffic in the history of London? pic.twitter.com/HDTDniucmS
— stormcab (@stormcab) November 4, 2020
what is going on in London....
solid traffic everywhere, gives you a insight to how its gonna be when back to normal with all these bike lanes.
— ray wright (@r_wrighty) November 4, 2020
In over 40 years in London I have never seen traffic like today. Is it the end of the world????
— UglyButler (@uglybutler1) November 4, 2020
why is there suddenly so much traffic in London wth
— drenica (@dreniiica) November 3, 2020
Wednesday’s traffic came as figures from the Department of Transport showed that overall transport usage surged ahead of the new lockdown restrictions coming into force.
Car travel in Britain rose to 87% of pre-pandemic levels on Monday, compared with 83% a week earlier.
Bus use outside London increased from 33% to 37% over the same period, while demand for London Underground trains grew from 57% to 60%.
Van traffic jumped from 98% to 104%, while lorry journeys were up from 105% to 107%.
The figure for car traffic on Monday was the highest since late September.
Shocking traffic tonight in Hammersmith. A bad crash in Shepherds Bush to blame. Everyone angry. Thank goodness they've created a safe space for cycling or my route would be extremely dangerous.
@LBHF @LBofHounslow @CllrSteveCurran @willnorman @HounslowCycling pic.twitter.com/ZKu32s7MzA
— Jeremy Vine (@theJeremyVine) November 4, 2020
Traffic levels in major English cities plummeted on Thursday as the second national lockdown began.
The level of congestion on London’s roads between 11am and noon was at 19%, compared with 40% during the same period last week, according to TomTom.
Other cities to see a decline in traffic jams included Birmingham (from 27% to 17%), Manchester (from 24% to 15%), Newcastle (from 28% to 16%) and Bristol (from 31% to 15%).
On Wednesday evening, MPs voted by 516 to 38 for the new lockdown restrictions, which are due to expire on 2 December.
However, in a bigger-than-expected Commons rebellion, 32 Tory MPs defied the whips to vote against the measures, with two more acting as tellers for the noes.
Watch: Can you catch the coronavirus twice?