Traffic Congestion - Best and Worst US Cities for Motorcyclists

Just how bad congestion and traffic truly is in different cities around the United States is reviewed in a recent study released by Tom Tom.

While not generally not included in the list of dream rides, at some point every rider will find themselves in the stop and go traffic of city roads, so this study should be required, if not casual reading for all motorcycle enthusiasts. On the bright side, the report also highlights the Cities enjoying the smoothest commutes.

The TomTom Traffic Index, now in its fifth year of public release, breaks down not only the best and worst times to hit the road, but also which days are the most traffic-clogged. Using data from 2015, the TomTom Traffic Index assessed traffic congestion in 295 major cities in 38 countries on six continents, from Rome to Rio, Singapore to San Antonio.

The annual report detailing the cities around the world with the most traffic congestion, the TomTom Traffic Index 2016 reveals some obvious winners and rising stars on this less than illustrious list. Based on the report, America’s biggest West Coast cities are mired in traffic-clogged commutes, and booming metro areas in the South are not far behind.

Not surprisingly, Los Angeles ranked No. 1 for having the nastiest gridlock, ahead of San Francisco, New York, Seattle, San Jose and Honolulu.

The TomTom Traffic Index found that Los Angeles had an overall congestion level of 41 percent last year, meaning the extra travel time on both highways and non-highways anytime of the day vs. free-flowing conditions.

That’s up from 39 percent in 2014 and the drive was worse during rush hours. In Los Angeles, a typical half hour commute took 81 percent longer during evening peak periods and 60 percent longer during the morning peak. For weary drivers in Southern California, traffic jams added up to 164 hours of extra travel time per year, almost a full week stuck in their cars.

The study found that Seattle had the country’s second-worst evening rush hour congestion with a 75 percent increase in travel time, followed by San Jose at 74 percent, San Francisco with 69 percent and Houston weighing in at 66 percent.

The overall congestion level in the Top 10 cities averaged 31 percent, about the same as last year.

US Only Rankings - Source 2016 TomTom Traffic Index

But some drivers in some cities enjoyed a reduction in traffic congestion from last year, including Las Vegas, Denver, Tucson, St. Louis, Detroit, Minneapolis and Milwaukee.

“We really want everybody to think about how they can lower the amount of time they waste in traffic every day – and to realize that we all need to play a part,” said Ralf-Peter Schaefer, vice president of TomTom Traffic. “We can help businesses plan smarter working hours to help their employees avoid traveling during rush hour. And we give drivers the real-time traffic information and smart routing they need to avoid congested roads and get to where they want to be, faster,” Schaefer said.

Among the U.S. highlights:

  • The full Top 10 ranking for most congested big cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, San Jose, Honolulu, Miami, Washington, D.C., Portland, Oregon and Chicago.
  • Some of them, Honolulu, Washington and Chicago, recorded a slight improvement in the overall traffic driving time from last year. But the leaders, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, each got worse.
  • Fast-growing cities in the South also ranked high, including Houston (11th on the overall congestion list), Atlanta (13), Tampa (15), Orlando (16), Baton Rouge, La. (18), Nashville (19) and Austin (21).
  • Cities enjoying the smoothest commutes were Midwest mainstays: Kansas City, Indianapolis, Omaha-Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Dayton, Ohio.

TomTom, based in Amsterdam, has worked with travel planners worldwide, offering the traffic data to help enhance mobility plans, smart city strategies and public transit and infrastructure. The information, gathered in part from navigational devices, also can be used by motorists at peak traffic periods to consider different departure times to avoid hang ups or to use other means of travel.

“Dare to follow a new route suggested by your navigation system,” Schaefer said. “Consider other modes of travel – maybe the fastest way to get to work is by bike, on public transport, or even by foot.”

A lighthearted look at the congestion in Mexico City by the New York Times

It’s natural for any country to weigh themselves against others, so how does the United States stack up against other parts of the world?

While North America’s traffic congestion has jumped by 17 percent, Europe as has gone up just 2 percent. Feedback from the study notes the contrasts probably are driven by economic growth in North America, and financial troubles in the many parts of Europe.

In particular, some countries have recorded a marked drop in traffic over the past eight years, including Italy down 7 percent and Spain down 13 percent.

However, casting an analytical net over the entire world, the US isn’t number one in traffic congestion. In fact, the top US City for congestion, Los Angeles, only manages to place at number ten.

Something a rider can tell themselves when they’ve traded the open back roads for that crowded city street.

Worldwide rankings - Source 2016 TomTom Traffic Index

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