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Know Before You Go: Worst Cities for Traffic

There are a lot of reasons for traffic congestion. Some cities don't have a reliable mass transit system, while others can't keep up with population explosions that have occurred over the past few decades. Most people who work in big cities can't afford to live there, which means traffic jams abound during rush hour. Whatever the case, if you're planning a trip, it's important to know the traffic patterns of the city you're visiting so you know whether it's worth renting a car or if you're better off relying on mass transit.


01 Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul Turkey Traffic Jam anouchka / Getty Images

Traffic is a huge problem in Turkey and nowhere is this more evident than in Instanbul, it's largest city. Congestion is a problem here for many reasons. While Instanbul does have a rapid transit system, it's underdeveloped and unreliable due to the rate of expansion in the metro area. Minibusses are available but are often filled to capacity, so most people rely on private vehicles. There are also a large number of destinations and origins, which means that a lot of people are traveling far distances to get from one place to another.


02 Bogota, Colombia

Bogotá, Colombia - It is a wet, rainy morning in the Andean Capital City of Bogota In the South American country of Colombia. The scene is traffic on Carrera Novena in the Cedritos area. Image shot by the driver provides a driver's point of view. Focus on the car windshield and the rain drops. Everything else is blurred by the shallow depth of field. Devasahayam Chandra Dhas / Getty Images

Another city where the number of vehicles is outpacing the capacity of the road system to handle them is Bogota, Colombia. What's interesting about Bogota is that, compared to countries with similar economies, it has fewer cars on average. In the coming years, as more and more people are able to afford motorcycles and automobiles, Bogota's traffic problems are likely to get worse.


03 New Delhi, India

New Delhi India MmeEmil / Getty Images

When you consider that the estimated population of New Delhi and the surrounding areas is upwards of 19 million people, it's easy to understand why traffic congestion is a problem. Traffic signals cycle every two to three minutes, which leads to significant backups, and the metro and bus services haven't kept up with the growing population. Another issue? Not only are there cars, trucks, buses, and three-wheelers on the road but also pedestrians and animal-driven carts.


04 Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok Thailand Congestion da-kuk / Getty Images

Bangkok is another city with exceptional traffic congestion, but it's a bit more predictable than other cities. Morning and evening rush hour are bad around the city, and the central business district is generally always congested. There are alternate routes around and through the city that make it possible to avoid the worst of it and public options like the BTS Skytrain, and rapid transportation system are fairly efficient.


05 Moscow, Russia

Moscow Kremlin, view from Tverskaya street at dusk. mikie11 / Getty Images

There are a few reasons for traffic congestion in Moscow. One is that, although there is a fairly well-established public transportation system to serve the city, it doesn't extend effectively into the surrounding metro area. Another major reason for the city's traffic issues is that people in Moscow like their cars. Despite new roads, trolleys, buses, and park and ride facilities in the suburbs, motorists cannot be convinced to switch from their cars to public transportation.


06 Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles California MCCAIG / Getty Images

When you think of Los Angeles, traffic jams are likely one of the first things that come to mind. There are a lot of historical reasons behind this, one of which being that the city never built as many roads as they'd planned to back in the 60s and 70s. Today, there's not enough room to build more freeways, and updates are logistically difficult and take years to complete. Los Angeles offers an extensive public bussing system, but only 25% of commuters are willing to use it.


07 Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City Traffic Nate Hovee / Getty Images

Traffic congestion in Mexico City was caused primarily by a population explosion in the second part of the 20th century. In 1950, the population was roughly 3 million. By 1990, it jumped to 18 million. The road system couldn't keep up. Most people cannot afford to live in the inner-city, which means more people on the road for longer commutes. Public transportation is available, but city roadways are still bumper-to-bumper during rush hour.


08 Dublin, Ireland

Dublin Ireland Traffic jamegaw / Getty Images

Dublin is home to more than 560,000 people. This may not seem like much when compared to some of the larger cities in the world, but when you consider its compact city center and narrow roadways, it's easy to see why traffic gets so bad. Getting around by car is made even more difficult thanks to one-way roads and bus lanes. Dublin does have an extensive public transportation system, but it's often unreliable.


09 Beijing, China

Crowded Traffic in Beijing Wenjie Dong / Getty Images

With a population of more than 20 million, it's no surprise that Beijing sees significant traffic congestion. But the sheer number of people isn't the only reason traffic jams are so bad. Beijing is more than 3,000 years old and was obviously not originally designed for cars. In China, owning a car is seen as a status symbol and, once someone buys a car, they're going to use it, even if it's inconvenient. Finally, the number of cars in China doubled between 2000 and 2010, meaning that most drivers don't have all that much experience.


10 Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta Indonesia Rush Hour AsianDream / Getty Images

Jakarta, Indonesia, is a city of over 10 million people. Owning a car is a sign of success, and motorcycles are inexpensive, so there are a lot of them on the road. Most people who work in the city cannot afford to live there, which means that the roads are overrun with commuters during rush hour. Jakarta does have a decent mass transit system that is being improved upon regularly, but, so far, it isn't able to keep up with the growing population.


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