Car journeys in Copenhagen have become significantly longer due to congestion, according to satellite navigation firm TomTom.
Their figures show that congestion makes journeys 16 percent longer than if the roads were free flowing, up from 13.9 percent longer the year before.
TomTom called the increase “significant”, and Copenhagen’s deputy mayor for technical and environmental affairs, Ayfer Baykal, argued that the numbers indicated a need for action.
“It doesn’t matter whether I look at this number, the numbers for air pollution or the numbers for noise, my conclusion is clear: there are too many cars in the city,” Baykal said.
The government attempted to introduce a congestion charge for Copenhagen following its election last September but had to abandon the plan after broad political and popular opposition.
As a compromise, opposition party Dansk Folkeparti and the far-left Enhedslisten joined with the government to establish a Congestion Commission that will present a combined strategy in August 2013 for tackling Copenhagen’s congestion.
“I think it is important that the commission should be allowed to think outside the box and present new ideas before I present a new demand for a congestion charge,” Baykal said.
Opposition MP Martin Geertsen (Venstre) told Politiken newspaper that while he remained opposed to a congestion charge for Copenhagen, he recognised that action needed to be taken to ease traffic problems.
“Personally I think that more people will choose public transport if it made sense to them,” Geertsen said. “But it’s not just about ticket prices as the government argues. I think it has to do with better integrating timetables so public transport flows better. There's currently no single authority that keeps track of the entire timetable, but there should be.”
Copenhagen’s increased congestion helped it rise from the 29th to 26th most congested city in Europe.
The capital’s problems are minor compared with Oslo and Stockholm, however.
In Stockholm – the eighth most congested city of the 31 cities TomTom looked at – congestion increased travel times by 27 percent, while in Oslo – the 15th most congested – journeys were 24 percent longer.
With Copenhagen’s population expected to increase by 100,000 over the next decade traffic planners say congestion will only get worse unless steps to discourage people from driving are taken.