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The most congested cities in Europe

March 15, 2011

As I read posts and articles on which city in the US is the most congested by car traffic I ask myself whether there is an objective method to measure quantitatively, rather than qualitatively, the degree of road congestion. Recently, I read a news article about the most congested city in Europe. Nothing new under the sun, I said at first, but I found that both the method and author deserve a mention. Tomtom, a Dutch manufacturer of navigation systems that uses global positioning (GPS), has for the first time published a list of the most congested cities in Europe. Tomtom gathered and collected data through gps installed in cars and calculated their speed on certain roads. A road was deemed congested if cars travelled at an average speed lower than the 70% of the local speed limit. Tomtom then ranked cities according to the percentage of congested roads out of the total network in the metropolitan area. For instance, a road with a speed limit of 30 mph is congested if the average speed is below 21 mph.  That is an objective and quantitative measure of traffic congestion.

Bruxelles is the most congested city in Europe, London comes fourth, Paris only ninth, while Rome and Amsterdam are 14th and 15th, respectively.

Traffic congestion in European cities(% of roads whose average speed is  70% below the speed limit)
City % of congested roads
1 Bruxelles 37.7
2 Warsaw 37.5
3 Wroclaw 35.7
4 London 34.7
5 Edinburgh 34.5
6 Dublin 33.9
7 Belfast 31.8
8 Marseille 31.2
9 Paris 30.4
10 Luxemburg 29.4
11 Milan 29.4
12 Rotterdam 28.8
13 Birmingham 28.5
14 Rome 28.0
15 Amsterdam 27.7
16 Oslo 26.4
17 Barcellona 26.3
18 Budapest 26.2
19 Naples 26.1
20 Poznan 25.4
21 Lódz 25.0
22 Turin 24.2
23 Palermo 24.1
24 Prague 23.6
25 Genoa 22.7
26 Cardiff 22.6
27 Vienna 22.4
28 Munich 22.4
29 Leeds 21.8
30 Kracow 21.2
31 Essen 21.1
32 Hamburg 20.6
33 Lisbon 20.0
34 Sheffield 19.5
35 Stuttgart 19.1
36 Cologne 18.1
37 Dusseldorf 17.9
38 Berlin 17.2
39 Talllinn 16.8
40 Helsinki 16.8
41 Nuremberg 16.7
42 Madrid 16.3
43 Frankfurt 15.3
44 Hannover 14.8
45 Glasgow 14.7
46 Bremen 14.6
47 Copenhagen 13.9
48 Bratislava 13.7
49 Seville 13.6
50 Berne 10.9
52 Vilnius 10.8
52 Leipzig 10.6
53 Dresden 9.7
54 Dortmund 9.3
55 Malaga 7.9
56 Stockholm 6.4
57 Zagreb 5.9
58 Valencia 5.3
59 Saragoza 1.5
Fonte: Tomtom

Once we have found a methodology, yet imperfect, to measure the degree of traffic congestion of a city, the next step will be to to reduce that traffic congestion. Few cities have applied congestion prices to reduce commuting by car and Steetsblog.org has just released a new video that shows some examples.

Moving Beyond the Automobile: Congestion Pricing from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

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