Urban traffic datapoint of the day

By Felix Salmon
August 24, 2010
62-mile traffic jam which is currently moving at one third of a mile per hour, and which is likely to last until mid-September. And that's not even the really scary bit:

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Beijing has a 62-mile traffic jam which is currently moving at one third of a mile per hour, and which is likely to last until mid-September. And that’s not even the really scary bit:

The mega-jam on the city outskirts comes as officials warn that downtown traffic in Beijing is steadily worsening. State media on Tuesday reported that average driving speeds in the capital could drop below nine miles an hour if residents keep buying at current rates of 2,000 new cars a day.

Here in New York, we literally haven’t seen rush-hour driving speeds of nine miles an hour in living memory. The average speed during the morning rush between 6am and 9am is 7.03mph; in the six-hour-long afternoon rush between 2pm and 8pm, it’s just 6.78mph.

The answer in both cities, of course, is the combination of better public transport with congestion charging. In Beijing, that’s going to happen. In New York, I’m not holding my breath.

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