Across the world, existing cities are expanding fast and new ones are springing to life. With booming populations, these cities are having overwhelming traffic volumes. Many of the existing cities do not have adequate infrastructural facilities to accommodate the growing traffic. Congestion is thus imminent. Long traffic jams in such cities stall urban life and hamper the physical and mental health of its commuters. It also leads to a reduction in the number of working hours resulting in huge losses to the economy. Below is a list of some of the European capital cities with the worst traffic jams. The ways in which they are coping with the problem has also been discussed.
Moscow, the capital of Russia, is known for its appalling traffic jams. Tom Tom, a Dutch GPS manufacturer, rates Moscow as the world’s worst in terms of traffic management. The traffic jams in the city increase the length of an average ride by more than a half. Several factors contribute to long traveling times in the city. Moscow is heavily populated and has a large resident population. Many people also visit the city daily for work. Tourists also flock to Moscow in large numbers as it is one of the major tourist destinations in Russia. Thus, there is always a heavy flow of traffic in the city. Another factor contributing to the traffic in Moscow is its planning. The city was established in the 12th century based on radial ring planning. It has four rings today. The ring system did work in ancient times but today is a major source of traffic congestion. The closer one is to the center of the city, the denser is the traffic. Also, for a long period, parking fines and regulations were not strictly imposed in Moscow which contributed to irresponsible parking and related traffic congestions. Reckless driving is also common in the city leading to accidents and thus traffic jams.
The capital of the United Kingdom, London, follows Moscow with the second-worst traffic congestion among the European capital cities. A performance report by TfL or Transport for London found a 7.7% reduction in London-wide traffic speeds between the third quarter of 2014/15 and 2015/16. According to the report, rising construction activity, increases in numbers of delivery vans and private hire vehicles, and a growing e-commerce market are some of the factors contributing to London’s gnarling traffic issues. To address traffic congestions in London’s roads, several initiatives have been taken by the government like the installation of cycling pathways and walkways. The Londoners are being encouraged to cycle or walk to work or take public transport.
The French capital city of Paris also suffers from extreme traffic jams. Its traffic-related issues are the same as that of London. A growing population in an ever-expanding metropolis has increased the number of vehicles on the city roads at any given point of time. Paris is also visited by millions of tourists every year, increasing the traffic in the city many times. According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, by 2030, Parisians might incur an annual cost of $5,525 per household in dealing with traffic congestion on their city streets. Some initiatives have been taken by the city’s mayor to reduce the traffic in Paris. Cycling has been encouraged. A network of cycleways and bus lanes have been built. A bike-share network has also been launched.
Oslo, the capital of Norway, is fourth on the list of Europe’s capital cities with the worst traffic jams. However, it might not be long before this city leaves the list due to extensive measures being adopted by the city administration to address the issue. Oslo’s traffic issues cropped up since the mid-2000s when traffic in the city streets soared due to a booming population. The higher life expectancies, rising birth rates, and the record influx of immigrants contributed to the cause. The population boom led to the growth in the number of apartment towers and commercial developments in the city. All these factors led to greater traffic volume and subsequent congestion in the city. However, in recent times, Oslo’s government has taken some major steps to tackle the issue. It plans to permanently ban cars in its core area very soon. To accomplish this goal, an extensive network of bike lanes and pocket parks are being built in the city. Car parking places are also being removed to discourage public to use cars for commuting to the city center. Parking fees in and around the city have also been made costlier during peak hours. All these measures have yielded some positive results. Congestion has decreased significantly. Greenhouse gas emissions are also dropping steadily.
Berlin, Germany’s capital, is the fifth European capital on this list. It also suffers from the same problems plaguing the other rapidly growing capitals in the continent. According to a report published by data provider INRIX, drivers in Berlin lost a total of over 6 days or 154 hours in 2018 to traffic jams during peak hours in the city. Like other cities, Berlin’s local government is also trying to solve the issue by using innovative solutions.