Globally we are becoming increasingly urbanised and one of the problems in cities worldwide is that there is more and more traffic. Apart from the fact that it puts pressure on infrastructure which constantly has to be expanded and repaired, traffic also has other negative effects. Traffic congestion has a major impact on business in urban areas: productivity is affected as time spent in traffic impacts on the hours that could be spent working. And when employees eventually do get to work, motivation can be low because of the negative impact traffic congestion can have on their mood: after fighting their way through long distances drivers can be left feeling tired and frustrated. In this blog we take a look at traffic in our cities, and what we can do to about it.
How does SA traffic congestion rate globally?
South Africa was ranked 5th most traffic congested country in the world in 2016 according to Numbeo, a worldwide user contributed database about different countries. The index takes into account different elements such as time consumed in traffic due to job commute, estimate of time consumption dissatisfaction, CO2 consumption in traffic and overall inefficiencies. Numbeo averages show that South Africans spend over 40 minutes extra per commute in traffic. It’s interesting to note that Pretoria was ranked most traffic congested city in South Africa, followed by Johannesburg and Cape Town respectively.
What causes traffic in our cities?
There are various reasons for traffic build up in our major cities this year. In Pretoria implementing new bus lanes resulted in disruptions and roadworks blocked Johannesburg roads as road infrastructure was improved. In Cape Town, however, there is growing concern that the existing infrastructure is being overwhelmed by an increasing traffic problem. Commuters hope that plans to complete the “Foreshore Freeway Bridge” famous for being left unfinished for almost four decades, will eventually come to fruition and alleviate the traffic problem in the Mother City.
What can be done about traffic congestion
One of the most interesting events affecting traffic in South Africa was the EcoMobility Festival which took place in Sandton, Johannesburg in October 2015. This area has come under increasing pressure in terms of traffic in recent years. The purpose of the event was to explore alternative methods of transport. Traffic was closed to cars and commuters requested to use alternatives such as bicycles or public transport including the Gautrain and busses. Whether the initiative was a success or not is still being debated, but it represents a willingness to examine different options to our increasingly pressing traffic problems. Government and industry needs to invest in viable alternatives that will alleviate the traffic on our roads. Some countries abroad are trying electric buses or incentivising carpooling. For now our advice for commuters who would like to contribute would be to either find alternative routes, consider forming a lift club or, if it's available, use public transport to ease traffic congestion.
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