TomTom index: London is still world’s ‘slowest city’

London still has the world’s slowest city center for motorists. That’s according to the new TomTom index. This puts the British capital at the top of the Dutch location technology company’s rankings for the second year. London scores so ‘high’ because of its widespread speed limits of 20 mph, or 32 km/hour.

TomTom based its analysis on travel time in 387 cities in 55 countries in a 5 km radius around city centers. Unsurprisingly, Brussels tops the rankings in Belgium, followed by Leuven and Liège. The capital, which also has a 30 kph Zone in force, rounds out the top ten in the ranking.

Most expensive for motorists

A 10-km trip in central London took an average of 37 minutes and 20 seconds last year, one minute more than in 2022. Dublin comes second in the 2023 ranking, although the travel time in the Irish capital for 10 km is almost 8 minutes less at 29 min 30.

Further in the top 10, you will find Milan, Lima, the Indian cities of Bengaluru and Pune, Bucharest, Manila, and Brussels, with 27 minutes.

Central London is not only the slowest in the world when traffic flows freely, but as a motorist, you also lose the most time there due to congestion. Together with the high price of fuel, this makes the British capital one of the most expensive cities in the world for motorists.

Vision Zero

According to TomTom, avoiding peak hours there can save you around 187 pounds or 217 euros a year – central London has a congestion charge for most vehicles between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends and bank holidays.

But that policy also fits into a broader picture. Lowering speed limits is vital to the Mayor’s Vision Zero goal to eliminate death and serious injury from London’s transport network and to enable more walking and cycling in the capital.

Once all 20 mph zones are installed, Transport for London (TfL) will have delivered 87 miles (140 km) of 20 mph roads across the capital. Data shows that crashes and related deaths have dropped by 25% since the 20 mph speed limit was introduced in March 2020 in central London.

Highest congestion level in Dublin

Returning to the TomTom index, you can say that travel time has mostly increased in the cities analyzed, from a minimum of 10 seconds to a maximum of 1 minute 50 seconds (Zurich). The most striking decrease can be found in the US Indianapolis (-2 min 10 s), Germany’s Munster, and Japan’s Sapporo (-1 min 10 s).

The top five cities with the highest congestion levels, in turn, include Dublin, Bengaluru, Mexico City, Bangkok, and Lima – including, not coincidentally, three cities with high scores in average travel time per 10 km.

Brussels number one in Belgium

And if you look more specifically at the situation of Belgian cities, you will see that Brussels scores highest with an average travel time per 10 km of 27 minutes. Leuven comes second with 18 min 10, followed by Liège (17 min 20), Antwerp (17 min), and Mons (16 min 20).

The Belgian top ten is completed by Namur, Ghent, Kortrijk, Bruges, and Charleroi, which are not coincidentally all major center cities. To be clear, Brussels has had a Zone 30 since January 2021.

The congestion level is highest in Brussels (37%), followed by Antwerp (34%), and Liège (28%).


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