Belfast the most congested city in the UK? (and 14th in the world)

2015-03-31 10.20.13Belfast congestion tends to disappear into insignificance when you are crawling for 10 miles along the M77 in Scotland at 8 o’clock on a Tuesday morning – it gives a whole new perspective on the hill section of the M2, and certainly on Victoria Street in the City Centre.

Today’s Belfast Telegraph carries the results of the latest TomTom traffic index. My good friend and actual expert on the subject, Wesley Johnston, was unavailable and recommended me to comment on the findings.  The above line was my original opener, but most of my article recycles points made earlier on this site.

Looking at Belfast’s figures and the live traffic figures map in the evening reveals the impact of two pinchpoints and how much they turn a very dark red to show high levels of congestion – Dee Street flyover and M2 Nelson Street offslip, both the subject of future road schemes.  Looking out my office window each day confirms this, revealing that Nelson Street is tailed back from early afternoon, and the Sydenham Bypass from the M3 to Dee Street stays very slow from early in rush hour until after 6pm.

While peak congestion on highways (motorways) at 32% is less than peak congestion on other roads (41%) it highlights the importance of the intended junction works at those two locations, and their impact on congestion once complete – and, most probably, on diverting more traffic from city streets to relieve congestion there.  It is also worth noting that Dublin, with its far better infrastructure, is still only at 18th in the world rankings, and for all my complaints about Glasgow one morning in February, it sits at 120th.

It certainly highlights the importance of a holistic solution, one which addresses the need to provide for those who cannot go about their business without using their car, diverts as many people as possible onto public transport and of course cycling (with apologies because I accidentally forgot to discuss cycling in the Telegraph article), and respects the fact that Belfast is a place where people live, work and play – the dilemma of addressing severance of communities caused by large road schemes.

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  • Zeno

    Maybe if would help if practically everyone didn’t want to go to work, school or shopping at the same time. Staggering all those times has to help. There is no good reason why schools must start at 9. Start them at 10 or 7. It’s the same with almost all jobs.

  • Gopher

    As Ive said before during school holidays there is not much of a problem on the roads. Its simple move the schools out of the city centre, generating a huge surplus. Moving Methody alone should generate a whopping amount. Build a toll road for private cars to where you locate all the schools and you will have the hand that never stops giving. Money to maintain the roads and a lump some to build more.

  • Alex

    I used to think Belfast had bad congestion but then I drove Ontario Highway 401 through Toronto and marvelled at how a motorway that is 18 lanes wide in some sections can still be jammed.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    What happened to the shinner minister’s recent Belfast transport plan? Looks like it worked out as good as the shinner minister’s education plan from a few years back. IE a total balls up.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Sorry people but the idea that Belfast traffic is the worst in the UK is laughable. As someone who drives a lot around the country for my work, driving in Belfast is a comparative breeze. But I must admit I haven’t looked at the particular data being quoted here. I find it hard to believe though that Belfast traffic comes anywhere near London, Birmingham, Oxford, Manchester or Bristol, to name just 5 cities that give me the fear when it comes to getting to appointments on time. By contrast, I drive the 5 miles or so from Jordanstown to Belfast city centre in about 15 minutes, always get parked easily; a traffic jam at peak hour might involved 10-15 minutes delay. In Manchester it’s more likely to be an hour. In London you can throw your watch away.

  • Stephen

    Using something as trivial as traffic congestion to throw a sly dig at SF eh Rants. Perhaps if the present incumbent was more concerned with road planning than having a flag on every public building we’d all be home a bit earlier. He after all has been in the job 4 years now lets not go down the old tory “what we inherited line” I’m off home now trying to beat the traffic.