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Traffic in Corona times: How the pandemic affects traffic jams around Bonn

Traffic in Corona times : How the pandemic affects traffic jams around Bonn

For motorists, the pandemic also has good sides, as an analysis of commuter flows shows. On the inner-city roads and the motorways around Bonn, traffic jams decreased, in some cases drastically. Nevertheless, commuters spent a lot of time in traffic jams.

A high volume of traffic, many commuters and bottlenecks caused by road works make the Rhineland and especially the Cologne-Bonn area the stronghold of traffic jams in NRW. Many commuters were not spared the tough city traffic in the Corona year 2020. However, because there were fewer cars on the roads, the volume of traffic jams in German cities decreased noticeably, as figures from the traffic data provider Inrix show. This was also the case in Bonn, where commuters spent an average of 22 hours in traffic jams last year, 13 hours less than the year before. This corresponds to a decrease of 37 percent.

In the data provider's nationwide congestion ranking, Bonn nevertheless ranks high, in 16th place out of 70 cities listed. Commuters in large cities such as Munich, which tops the table with an average of 65 hours of congestion, is followed by Berlin (46 hours) and Hamburg (33 hours). Cologne ranks 12th with an average of 24 hours of congestion, a decrease of 41 per cent compared to the previous year.

The reason for the decrease in congestion is quickly found: The average daily mileage dropped significantly - by values between 12 and 25 percent in the ten most congested cities. "The Corona virus is changing the way we move when, where and how we move," says Bob Pishue, traffic analyst at Inrix. "Morning commutes to cities declined worldwide as people reduced their trips to offices, schools, shopping centres and other public places."

In addition, an analysis of driving speeds in the last one and a half kilometres that commuters travel to their destination will show how well or poorly things were progressing in the inner cities. In Bonn, they travelled an average of three kilometres per hour faster than in the previous year. For its survey, Inrix looks at typical commuter routes in the cities studied and calculates how much time drivers lose there due to traffic jams.

Inner-city traffic down sharply

Other companies and organisations also regularly examine the density of traffic jams in Germany - with different methods and sometimes different results. The map specialist TomTom, for example, came to the conclusion that Berlin was the worst affected by traffic jams last year, ahead of Hamburg, Wiesbaden, Nuremberg and Stuttgart. Munich only came in seventh place. Bonn was ranked 11th, ahead of Cologne. Compared to the previous year, the volume of traffic in Bonn in 2020 fell by 28 per cent. January, February and September were particularly congested in the federal city. In April, inner-city congestion decreased significantly, which was probably due to the lockdown.

Significantly fewer traffic jams on Bonn's motorways

The ADAC, in turn, looks at the intensity of congestion on motorways, with the most in North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria. In these surveys, too, however, the volume of traffic jams was clearly in decline, falling by more than a third on the motorways in NRW. The number of traffic jam reports fell by 36 percent, the total length of all traffic jams dropped by more than half from 453,000 to 197,000 kilometres. At 75,000 hours, drivers also spent only half as much time in traffic jams last year.

The figures also show a drastic reduction in traffic on the motorways around Bonn. On the A565 between Meckenheim and Bonn, traffic jams formed in 2019 with a total length of 10,572 kilometres. In the Corona year, there was only a total length of 3777 kilometres of congestion. Instead of 5700 hours, drivers were stuck here for only 2000 hours. The decrease is similarly clear on other motorways: On the A555 between Bonn and Cologne, congestion fell from 5315 to 1887 kilometres, on the A59 in the Cologne-Bonn section it fell from 12,124 to 4505.

The question remains whether the pandemic will also have a lasting effect on traffic in and around Bonn. The ADAC expects traffic to largely return to normal in 2021 and traffic jams and obstructions to increase again. "In order for there to be fewer traffic jams after the Corona crisis, employers but also employees must not fall back into old patterns of thinking," demands ADAC traffic expert Roman Suthold. "The pandemic has shown that the number of journeys to work as well as business trips can be significantly reduced by home office and mobile working."

(Original text: Andreas Dyck, with material from the dpa / Translation: Mareike Graepel)