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Most congested traffic in Europe?

If you've ever wondered, here's a report compiled by TomTom that ranks European cities' traffic patterns, based on the difference between peak commuting hours and the mid-day lull. Not surprisingly, Moscow has the worst traffic, and anyone who's ever driven the Paris Perpherique or Brussels ring won't be shocked by those cities' relatively high rankings (7th and 9th, respectively). More curious, though, are Warsaw and Stockholm's high ranks, and London's relatively low rank at 14- still high overall, but I would expect a city of London's size and economic importance to suffer under more traffic strain than, for instance, a relatively secondary city like Palermo or Lyon. And no surprises here in Germany, Stuttgart has the worst traffic in the country.

So... what do you think?

Posted by
4684 posts

That report seems to be primarily based on measuring differences between traffic speed in peak hours and in "off-peak" times. I suspect London's low ranking is because that the relatively narrow streets in much of the centre mean that traffic flow is very slow even "off-peak".

Posted by
33123 posts

I think that Philip has it. I see no relevance in how much faster the traffic moves in the "lull". Problem with Paris and London is that there really is no lull of any great significance, and the peak, at least in London really drags.

As a relatively frequent driver into the Metropolis I find that traffic can be a real bear once I am inside the M25 no matter when. That gets even worse south of the River. If you have ever tried the A406 North Circular anytime on a weekend you will see it crawl. Heck, the South Circular doesn't even crawl much of the time. And that is a fair number of miles outside central London. If you don't know where you are going and a few of the local rat runs it will eat your lunch.

Lull? What lull?

If you want easy rush hour traffic, and pretty much the whole day is lull, try Monte Carlo.

Posted by
2829 posts

The methodology of such rankings has an obvious problem: cities where congestion is common all-day long will fare better in the ranking than cities where traffic is free-flowing in the lull and just a bit congested on peak time.

Belgium does need some serious road widening investment, though. Netherlands has embarked on a massive road expansion program, largest since the early 1970s, and congestion has so far plummeted 39% after billions and billions of euros were already made into nice new highway lanes or new highways altogether.

Posted by
12040 posts

"Belgium does need some serious road widening investment" Interesting that you wrote that, because in the article from De Standaard that referenced this report (and hence, how I stumbled upon it), a spokesman from the ministry of transportation expressly ruled out widening the Brussels ring or any of the feeder arteries any further than they've already done.

Maybe the summary of the report for travelers should be this: avoid driving in and around these cities at rush hour.

Posted by
5355 posts

INRIX which uses rather different methods gives the following as the top 20 congested metro areas:

1 - Brussels
2 - Milan
3 - Antwerp
4 - London
5 - Paris
6 - Manchester
7 - Rotterdam
8 - Nottingham
9 - Ghent
10 - Merseyside
11 - Stuttgart
12 - Birmingham
13 - Lyon
14 - Cologne
15 - Amsterdam
16 - Grenoble
17 - Bordeaux
18 - Belfast
19 - The Hague
20 - Charleroi

And the top ten in terms of countries:

1 - Belgium
2 - Netherlands
3 - France
4 - UK
5 - Italy
6 - Luxembourg
7 - Germany
8 - Switzerland
9 - Austria
10 - Spain

Posted by
5635 posts

Stockholm isn't a total surprise if they are focusing on rush hour compared with non-rush hour. Since the city is on 14 islands, commutes from the suburbs generally mean cars get bottlenecked on the major roads that lead to the bridges ... still, doesn't compare to London or DC.

Marco's list seems more like what I think of as congestion.

Posted by
4637 posts

I don't know how INRIX measures congestion but I don't see Moscow there. I must agree with TomTom because nothing compares to monumental traffic jams there. Our driver told us that when he goes to pick people up at the train station he drives there the night before and parks, then goes home and back by Metro so he is there on time.

Posted by
32241 posts


I'm surprised that Rome isn't on the list?

For North American cities, the Tom Tom report showed Vancouver to have the worst traffic, even surpassing Los Angeles. The local Vancouver politicians were on the news tonight, as they took great exception to the report. Watching the daily Vancouver traffic nightmare on the news every day, I believe there's some truth to the findings. Thankfully I don't have to deal with it.

Posted by
12040 posts

Ken, Rome is #6 on the TomTom report. What Marco sited (and where neither Rome nor Moscow appear) was the INRIX survey, which I haven't seen and I don't know what criterea they used. That survey also lists Gent surpringly high, although Antwerp's high ranking doesn't shock me at all. At least both seem to agree that driving around Brussels, Stuttgart and Paris are usually not fun experiences.

Posted by
32241 posts


Thanks for the correction. I was looking at the list that Marco posted, and didn't check the Tom Tom version. I found that the North American PDF file took forever to download so I didn't look at the Europe one.

They're still talking about it on the late news, and they also interviewed someone from INRIX in Seattle. He wasn't sure about the numbers posted by Tom Tom, but did say that he felt overall traffic was worse in Canada than in the U.S.

Posted by
12172 posts

Years ago there was a similar study the papers in Seattle were touting showing Seattle had the second worst traffic in the country (also based on the difference between rush-hour and normal traffic). All I could think of at the time was, these people have never driven in LA. This is one of the worst ways to measure "traffic".

London is the most congested I've been in, if not the most crazy (Rome), which is why I take the tube.

All else equal, any city with bridges is going to be congested more often than not.