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Belfast has most congested road in UK outside London

By Brett Campbell

Belfast has the most congested road anywhere outside of London, it has been revealed.

The study by Inrix, a traffic information company, shows traffic jams cost the average UK driver nearly £1,000 a year.  

While congestion is the most severe in London - which was found to be the seventh worst city out of more than 1,000 analysed around the world - the A1 southbound from College Gardens in Belfast to Wallace Park in Lisburn is the most congested traffic corridor in the UK.

Roads expert, Wesley Johnston, said better enforcement of traffic rules could help relieve driver woes on the busy route which encompasses the Lisburn Road, Kingsway and Queensway. 

“The Lisburn Road in particular is often the source of much angst on social media," he said.

“Illegal parking in clearways is a big issue along there, and certainly better enforcement would be one tool that would help.

“But the fundamental problem is that the road operates well above capacity at peak times, it’s a popular route that more and more people want to use and they simply can't fit on it."

According to the newly published findings the UK is the third worst traffic congestion country in Europe and drivers are spending an average of 32 hours a year stuck in rush-hour gridlock.

Researchers have calculated that the cost of hold-ups reached £31 billion last year, costing UK drivers an average of £968.

Inrix chief economist Graham Cookson has attributed the cause of increasing congestion to multiple factors including a stable economy, low fuel prices and growing employment which is at an 11 year high. 

"The cost of this congestion is staggering, stripping the economy of billions, impacting businesses and costing consumers dearly.

"To tackle this problem, we must consider bold options such as remote working, wider use of road user charging and investment in big data to create more effective and intelligent transportation systems," said Mr Cookson.

Manchester is the second most congested UK city, followed by Aberdeen, Birmingham and Edinburgh.

Aberdeen eclipsed London for congestion at peak periods last year as the hardest city to get into or out of, with drivers stuck in gridlock 24% of the time, moving at an average speed of 5.5mph.

Businesses suffer the most from traffic in Cardiff, with daytime congestion in the Welsh capital occurring 15% of the time.

AA president, Edmund King, has suggested that changes to how people work could be the answer to the growing problem.

"Employers could help ease the situation by introducing flexible working hours or home-based employment and we also need to improve the efficiency of white van deliveries as light vans are the fastest area of traffic growth," he said.

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, has warned that congestion is a “high price to pay for having a successful economy” and said there is a risk that gridlock could begin to strangle growth.

According to the study Russia is the most congested country in Europe, followed by Turkey and the UK.

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