Is the congestion real or perceived? This is how experts assess the traffic jam situation in and around Bonn
Bonn · Complaints about numerous traffic jams in the Bonn area and on commuter routes are increasing. Drivers are annoyed. Is the congestion real or is it only a matter of perception?
Is the heavy traffic just a part of normal everyday life for Bonn motorists and commuters from Cologne? Or are we actually spending more time than usual in traffic jams in the mornings and evenings? Subjective feeling of traffic jams or reality? Of course there are some things that are within the range of normal: When people were away on fall holidays, those that remained behind were happy about how smoothly traffic was flowing and now register more stillstand or slow-moving traffic (with the end of fall vacations).
Thomas Müther is head of communications for the German automobile association ADAC and said he sees "several general reasons" why some drivers might be so annoyed at the moment. Some reasons are seasonal. "Many people have taken all of their vacation days for the year, so there are more people in the offices," he says. This leads to more traffic. As well, with inclement weather, more and more commuters are switching from trains and bicycles to cars, which exacerbates the situation on the autobahns. As for public transportation, "We don't have a 9-euro ticket anymore and we don't have a 49-euro ticket yet," Müther said, two tools that could relieve traffic on the roads. "October and November were the classic congestion months before we had the Corona pandemic," the traffic expert explains. When Covid came and the infection figures shot up in the fall, the traffic situation eased in months which were previously congested. The reason: many employees were asked to work from home for infection control reasons. Suddenly, November was no longer a month ripe for congestion. The fact that significantly fewer people are currently working from home than in the past two years naturally exacerbates the situation on commuter routes.
According to Müther, the main cause of congestion is construction zones. The fact that work is carried out especially on the autobahns around Bonn and between Cologne and Bonn at this time of year is, according to the expert, also partly due to the fact that companies are trying to bring construction activities to an end before the winter weather sets in. By the way, according to "Verkehr NRW" and the new portal "maps.adac.de", there are currently about 25 construction sites between the south of Cologne and Bad Honnef around Bonn, adding up to more than 13 kilometers. These are not remarkable numbers.
When asked about the causes of traffic jams and whether there are more road works than usual, Lauren Guiomar Dohnalek from the press office of Autobahn GmbH Rheinland replies: "Basically, I can tell you that the current increased traffic volume after the fall vacations is a common phenomenon. Regular evaluations show that the months of October and November are the most congested months of the year. This is attributed, among other things, to the change of season and the longer 'darkness' periods that accompany it.”
Subjective feeling of congestion or hard facts? The moaning about the daily traffic jams and the feeling that things are getting worse and worse: both are put into perspective if we simply look back a year. The devastating floods on the Ahr and in the Eifel made many roads impassable, and the A 61 was closed from the Meckenheim intersection until mid-December, so that all long-distance truck traffic had to use the A 565. This led to long traffic jams around Bonn and a chronically congested right-hand lane, which put a strain on inner-city alternative routes and also put a heavy load on the A 555, for example.
Mobility expert Roman Suthold, whom we interviewed about commuters in the summer of 2021 sharing the roads with return travelers, described an adventurous car trip from Cologne to Bonn in which he had to take all the alternatives his traffic app offered in order to arrive somewhat on schedule. At the time, he said that working from home, traveling at off-peak hours and flexible working hours were ways to avoid the frustration of traffic jams. Suthold, head of the "Traffic and Environment" department at ADAC Nordrhein, said in general: "Critics say: We are the traffic jam. The problem is that we're all going to work or home at the same time, and we're all going on vacation at the same time." The current situation around Bonn is nothing special, ADAC spokesman Müther told us.
According to an analysis by traffic data provider Inrix, we spent an average of 40 hours per year in traffic jams in 2021. This means that the time lost on the roads in this country was again almost as high as before the pandemic. In 2019, it was 46 hours on average. What to do when there is a traffic jam? Don't fret, don't beat yourself up. "Women's Health" has a few suggestions: Shorten the wait with stretching, head left, head right, etc; throw in positive podcasts like "Happy, holy and confident"; just sing the traffic jam away; polish off the snacks in the glove compartment. (Orig. text: Thomas Kliemann / Translation: ck)