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Who has worse traffic? North America or Europe?

Who has worse traffic? North America or Europe?

Jun 20th, 2002, 08:40 PM
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Who has worse traffic? North America or Europe?

I have posted this message on both the US and Europe boards, but since there are so many people who have been to so many different cities I figured this is a great place to post the question:

Who has worse traffic: North America or Europe?

After all, North American cities have notoriously poor public transportation options meaning that everyone HAS to drive a car to and from work (which is usually far away from where they live). But Europe has much greater density, meaning more people traveling on older roads.

So, where is the REALLY bad traffic?
Jun 20th, 2002, 08:45 PM
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Ever tried driving downtown Tijuana, Mexico? One of their traffic circles prepares you for driving almost anywhere in the world.

We live in Southern California & deal with bad traffic constantly. Thus, when I drove what was supposed to be the most dangerous road in Europe (in Southern Portugal) it didn't seem that bad to me. Some advantages to lots of experience.
Jun 21st, 2002, 03:29 AM
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AMEN to the bad traffic of southern CA. especially Los Angeles
Jun 21st, 2002, 04:16 AM
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Our worst traffic day in any U.S. city can't hold a candle to the chaos on the streets of Athens, Istanbul, Rome or Paris.
Jun 21st, 2002, 04:29 AM
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I don't know why you say that Maggi...

place: SF eastbay
when: recently
miles driven: 20
elapsed time: 3 hours
driver mental state: meltdown
Jun 21st, 2002, 08:18 AM
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I love these polls - "who has the ugliest cops" etc. Everybody needs something to be proud of, I guess, even if it's the traffic.

The funny (haha?) fact is that regardless of how bad the "traffic" is (meaning what?) the average commute to work hasn't changed much over the years. The Wall Street Journal this week reported that average travel to work time in the US had gone up by all of 3 minutes and 40 seconds between 1980 and 2000, according to the detailed US census. Guess what? The commute time people will tolerate (ON AVERAGE) hasn't changed much since Rome. And these numbers are nearly universal, Europe, America, Asia, you name it. There are some cultural differences but they're not very major.

We can just go farther now in that half hour or 45 minutes because we have cars or subways or the bus. Statistically, and every transportation planner with a degree knows this, people will relocate their homes or jobs if and when the commute becomes intolerable, and the "intolerable" threshold is usually around 45 minutes each way. For every soul who's content to commute from Newport Beach to Wilshire Blvd., there's another who moves into a condo because he/she can't stand the drive. It all balances out. "Congestion" is actually "equilibrium." People are not all idiots: if the drive is too long, they'll move. Build another freeway or a new rail line, and those that use it create free spots in the road they don't use any more. Somebody else, whose tolerance is adequate, will move out into the burbs and use the space that got vacated. Same congestion, new congested road, more real estate developed, same commute times. Ask anyone who lived in the East Bay before they built BART how much better things are now that the rapid transit has been running for 30 years.
Jun 21st, 2002, 09:31 AM
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I've never heard that argument before, but it does make sense!
Jun 21st, 2002, 10:06 AM
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For sheer quantity of traffic jams New York is the leader. How many times can you encounter a 30-minute delay at 2:30 AM on a Tuesday? Just try the BQE or the FDR Drive near the Brooklyn Bridge!
Jun 21st, 2002, 10:30 AM
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I'm convinced that the Europeans are simply better drivers (more alert, more responsive, better understanding of what the lines and signs mean, etc.) so I think that translates into less accidents and less traffic, maybe. I was in Paris last week and had no problem driving out of the city at 6 PM. Yeah, there was a lot of traffic, but it was moving and no wrecks. In the NYC area, there are just crashed and broken down cars all over the place causing all kinds of rubbernecking.

Jun 21st, 2002, 11:23 AM
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While it's true that Europeans are better drivers - license requirements are a lot more stringent - driving speeds in New York are generally higher, mostly due to wider streets and highways that go through the city.
Jun 21st, 2002, 02:16 PM
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Traveling in the US is generally much worse for me than in Europe. If I'm in NYC, Boston (where I live) or LA, it often takes FOREVER to get anywhere by car. In Europe I find less horrendous traffic jams like in the US (think 4 lane highways backed up 30 miles outside of Boston traveling south to Cape Cod) but more street traffic.

I find Boston worse than both London and Paris. LA is probably the worst of them all.

Europe has older cities with greater urban density, which means that public transportation can be built to serve many people.

Build a train station in LA, and most people will have to drive just to get there because everythign is spaced so far apart.
Jun 21st, 2002, 02:56 PM
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xx, Europeans are not necesarily better drivers, and their testing is not always more stringent. I've taken driving tests in both Europe and the US, and believe me, the US exam was much harder, both the "written" and driving portions.

And try driving in Portugal, or Poland, or Ireland, before you write off American driving skills. For the most part, Americans are taught "defensive" driving, a concept which draws blank looks in much of Europe. My personal judgement is the the typical California driver is more skilled than the typical European one. There are plenty of exceptions. Jerks.

And g, actually a higher percentage of European central cities have been rebuilt as car-friendly places than older US cities. Americans didn't have the blitz or carpet bombing to recover from in the 40s and 50s. Remember, Boston, New York, Philadephia, and dozens of other North American cities were built on European models (which in many cases were built on Roman ones, by the way.)

And population densities in places like New York, Boston, San Francisco and a couple of other American cities are just as high as in many European ones, where height limitations and concerns for public health in the 19th Century) kept densities low by design. New York's public transportation system is way superior to many European cities'. But the congestion in Manhattan is just as bad as the congestion in London, for the reasons I listed earlier.
Jun 21st, 2002, 05:25 PM
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Neither. Bangkok has the worst traffic. And since they have no emissions standards, you literally cannot walk along the streets because the exhaust fumes are so bad.
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