Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Researchers have determined that London is the slowest city in Europe. Traffic in the UK capital averages just 11.8 miles-per-hour. For years, I have suspected that London traffic is particularly bad. The traffic seems much worse than that in New York. One major problem is that the city is so old. The roads are not laid out in any sort of pattern, but seem to go this way and that, like a twisted mound of spaghetti. I think a lot of London was built back when there was only horse-drawn traffic.
New York City streets follow a pattern. Through most of Manhattan, streets go east and west, while avenues go north and south. Most roads there are one way, alternating direction. Additionally, lower numbered streets are in the south, with numbers getting higher as you travel North. The north-south avenues are very wide, with several lanes of traffic. Even the streets are more than twice the width of typical London streets. With such simplicity, almost no one who lives in New York owns an atlas of the city. By contrast, every Londoner owns a London A-Z atlas. It's virtually impossible to find your way around without one.
London traffic is hindered by the absence of any cross-city motorway. Thus, there's no quick way to get from the west side of town to the east. Some roads turn ninety degrees, then dead end, leaving a driver to follow a very convoluted path to navigate on his way. When you add up the traffic, the congestion charge and the difficulty, and expense, of finding parking in central London, if I lived in the city, I wouldn't bother owning a car. As far as the slow average speed goes, maybe everyone could just hurry up ands raise the average?

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