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News

UK cities 'among most congested' in Europe

26/04/2010

UK roads are among the busiest in Europe, new figures suggest, with three domestic cities making the list of the continent's top 10 most congested urban areas.

And despite its congestion charge, London is the UK's most congested city - coming in fourth on the list, which is headed by Brussels and the Polish cities of Warsaw and Wraclow. Edinburgh completes the top five, while Belfast is ranked seventh and Birmingham 13th.

Other British cities on the list of 59 include Cardiff (26), Leeds (29), Sheffield (34) and Glasgow (45).

Compiled by sat-nav maker TomTom, the rankings are calculated from anonymous data sent to the company when users connect their machines to their home computers. The company defines congestion as being when drivers travel at 70% or less of the local speed limit, and says that its information provides an accurate picture of travel time information.

It adds that drivers in congested cities would face more than 20 minutes of significant delays in a one-hour journey.

And the problem is only set to get worse, according to RAC Foundation director Stephen Glaister.

Based on the Government's most recent predictions, from 2008, the UK population is expected to grow by around two million every five years, reaching 71.6 million by 2033.

Professor Glaister told Radio Four's Today programme that this growth in population would generate more movement - and more congestion - particularly at a local level.

"Most of that demand will be on the road network," he said.

"So you've got to decide what you're going to do about it and not put your head in the sand and hope it will all go away - because it won't.

"It's not just about pouring concrete - many roads are adequate.

"What we need in many cases is better management of the roads we've got: spending more money where it's sensible on clearing up incidents more quickly, managing the flow...hard shoulder running of motorways - you can do a great deal, but it does cost money."

However, Professor Glaister added that road pricing "can help" redistribute peak-time traffic to other times of the day when roads are more quiet


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