• Europe’s Most Congested Cities Don’t Cycle: ECF Newswatch
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  • Cities for Cyclists, Mobility,
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  • 18.10.2012


Data from TomTom has ranked Europe’s most congested cities. Unsurprisingly, the top 5 cities have low levels of cycling.

Navigation systems manufacturer, TomTom has ranked Europe’s most congested cities with Istanbul, Warsaw, Marseille, Palermo and Rome being named the most congested cities in Europe. 

Of the these five cities, not one sees more than 2% of trips done by bicycle. Cycling cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, with more than a third of trips done by bicycle, all received positive report cards. They ranked 45th and 46th on a list of 58 cities. 

Credit: TomTom

“Unfortunately, politicians often look to solve congestion problems by building more roads. But as it’s been said many times before, it’s like putting out a fire with gasoline,” says Martti Tulenheimo, ECF’s Policy Office for Urban Mobility. 

“We need to start thinking about the way me move people, and not just cars. TomTom suggests that people take different routes with their cars. I think people should take different modes of transport.”

Congestion remains an expensive issue in transport policy with Transport putting a 200 billion price tag on congestion in Europe (approximately 2% of GDP). Building more roads is often touted as a way of easing peak traffic, yet experience suggests otherwise. 

According to the ground-breaking 1962 study “law of peak-hour traffic congestion,” published by Anthony Downs,  “on urban commuter expressways, peak-hour traffic congestion rises to meet maximum capacity.” Recent studies have come to similar conclusions, with the American Economic Review suggesting that building more roads does not ease congestion. 

It appears that the rule “build it and they will come” applies not only to cycling but also road infrastructure. Yet cycling, walking and public transport can move higher volumes of people in a shorter amount of time. In one hour, a 3.5 metre wide lane can transport 14,000 cyclists, while only carrying 2,000 cars.  

Is it time to start building more cycle paths in the name of all road users? 



About the Author

Julian Ferguson is the Communications Officer for the European Cyclists’ Federation. Originally hailing from Australia and a keen bicycle advocate, he plans one day to ride his bicycle from Brussels to Melbourne




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Last Updated October 19, 2012