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.