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Brussels worst European city for traffic jams
TomTom, the GPS maker, has used the data of car locations and movement speed for 60 European cities to calculate the total time spent by drivers in traffic jams. Brussels came on top as the most congested conurbation, with 37% of the time on the road spent in traffic tie-ups.
Here is the ranking of the most congested cities.
It is surprising that Italian cities, with their convoluted historical centres of narrow streets, do not make the top 10.
The reasons for Brussels' plight are manifold :
1) The Benelux has the highest density of motor vehicles in the world (alongside Japan), and Brussels is the biggest urban agglomeration.
2) 2 million commuters join Brussels' population of 1 million every day and most come by car rather than by public transports. In other words, the number of cars more than triples by day time, and the greatest lot is concentrated during two short rush hours (7-9 am and 5-7 pm).
3) Traffic lights are execrably synchronised. On a short stretch of 5 consecutive traffic lights that would take 1 minute if all lights were green at the same time, it usually takes over 5 minutes because each light turns red as soon as cars have passed the previous light.
4) Too many businesses and government institutions are concentrated in the tiny city centre. To make this worse the historical centre has old, narrow streets that are mostly one-way and prone to congestion. Efforts have been made to relocate big companies to new offices in the suburbs, but most shops, big banks, embassies and government institutions (including the EU) all remain in the centre. Brussels lack big shopping centres in the suburbs. There are only three medium-size (tiny by American or Japanese standards) shopping centres in all Brussels.
The main blame has to be placed on poor traffic light management. It is inconceivable that with all the modern technology (traffic detectors, computerised synchronisation...) a wealthy city like Brussels has not yet tackled this issue. Traffic jams are not just bad for people's nerves and a waste of time/money for everyone, they increase pollution, deteriorate residents' health and waste petrol.