The World's Worst Traffic


Going nowhere fast in Bangkok. Photo by pchweat.

Which city has the world’s worst traffic? It’s a tough question, as cities like Sao Paulo, Cairo, Mumbai, and Los Angeles compete neck and neck for the world’s worst bottlenecks. But Time Magazine thinks it has found its answer in Bangkok, dubbing Thailand’s megacity “The Capital of Gridlock.” Hannah Beech, the author of the Time news story, explains just how bad traffic can get, writing that, “Police don’t consider traffic bad until a car is stationary for at least an hour. Really bad is two hours.”

Overall, Ms. Beech does a tremendous job covering the wide range of problems connected to Bangkok’s traffic congestion:

The human side: “Traffic in Thailand’s capital snarls with such ferocity that hundreds of women over the past few years have been forced to give birth in cars.” Police are now trained in midwifery, she reports.

The economic side: “More than $1 billion in productivity is lost every year to traffic jams.”

The environmental side: In the 1970’s Bangkok cemented over canals to build more streets for the growing number of cars. “…the declining number of canals, which once served as reservoirs for rain, means that substantial portions of the city flood during the five-month-long wet season. The rising water invariably short-circuits traffic lights, turning intersections into free-for-alls.”

To watch a video about Bangkok’s train market, click here.

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