In Zurich, drivers need to be patient. Compared to the previous year, traffic jams increased significantly in 2023. Citizens see transportation policy as the reason.
The basics in a nutshell
- Traffic jams in Zurich have recently increased significantly – the largest in the world.
- Citizens say this is also due to the city's leftist green policy.
- The city itself explains this development through construction works or individual events.
In the new traffic rankings released by GPS company Tomtom, Zurich is ranked first. This is not good news: the ranking shows the places with the largest number of traffic jams in the world.
More precisely, it analyzes how long it takes on average to cover a distance of ten kilometres. With a time of 23 minutes and 30 seconds, Limat ranks 28th out of 387 cities. The journey takes the longest in London (37 minutes and 20 seconds).
However, in one category, Zurich holds first place. Compared to the previous year, this duration increased by 1 minute and 50 seconds in 2023. More than anywhere else in the world.
30 km/h or bicycle paths as possible causes
For bourgeois politicians, it is clear: the left is at least partly to blame. The Civil Engineering and Disposal Department is headed by Responsible Simon Brander, SP City Councilor.
“Red-green-dominated” transport policy plays a big role, FDP cantonal councilor Sonja Ruff-Frenkel tells Nau.ch. “The increase in travel time is probably also due to the fact that speed limits of 30 km/h have been introduced on more and more streets in Zurich.”
A member of the Energy, Transport and Environment Committee says removing some lanes will also slow traffic. “Reducing lanes in favor of a wider bike path boosts bicycle movement, but slows down public transportation and cars.”
Center-National Council: The arrangement is consistent with the objectives of the city government
Philipp Kotter, national advisor to the Zurich Centre, believes that being ranked first in the rankings is not bad news for the city: “It is clearly consistent with Zurich's transport policy objectives of 'reversing the car'.”
In any case, it is difficult to explain the strong increase in the short term. The transport politician suspects: “It could be an effect of the post-pandemic recovery.” “Traffic has increased again, so progress is slower.”
Citizens complain that the delay will have negative consequences in any case. “It's especially bad for companies that rely on cars,” says Roof-Frankel. This takes much longer to get from point A to point B – and someone has to pay for that extra work time. Cotter fears the costs will be passed on to customers.
But it's not just companies and customers who will suffer: “Public transport must also remain attractive, and this does not happen if the bus is stuck in a traffic jam,” says the cantonal advisor.
Citizens want to expand the road network
What should we do in the future to avoid traffic jams? “The key question is whether you want to reduce delays at all,” says Cotter. “Provided there is that political will, the road network can be expanded or traffic can be managed more intelligently.”
It is also clear to Ruff-Frenkel that increased travel time should be avoided. However, it is always a political question – and corresponding proposals have difficulty in green-left Zurich. The member of the Free Democratic Party says: “New ideas fail because of the majority.”
What does the city of Zurich itself say about its traffic congestion rating?
Civil Engineering Authority spokeswoman Evelyn Richiger explains: “We can only speculate about the reasons for these results. “But it is possible for us that the closures and construction work may have contributed to this outcome.”
Should car traffic in cities be reduced?
Yes, it improves the quality of life.
No, this is more harmful to cities.
In addition, it is possible that individual events may also have affected the numbers. This includes accidents as well as events such as concerts, sporting events, street parade or Zürifascht.
The city's goal is to promote environmentally friendly and efficient mobility. The car is not one of them. “The goal is to achieve a livable, climate-neutral city by increasing walking, cycling and public transport.”
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