Top 5 Toughest Commuter Cities for Drivers, Bicyclists, and Pedestrians

Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Email this to someone

Traffic—it’s the bane of our existence weekday mornings, nights, and even on the weekends. For many people, it’s totally unavoidable and can cause loads of stress day in and out. However, traffic doesn’t just affect those behind the wheel, but everyone else including bicyclists and pedestrians. Some cities are better for drivers, whereas others are more friendly towards cyclists and commuters à pied . . . and some are just difficult to get around in no matter how you slice it. With this in mind, we’ve assembled a list of the most trying cities in the nation to get around in.

Top 5 Worst Cities For Overall Navigation – In 2006, Author/Researcher Bert Sperling (the “Best Places” guy) released his list of America’s 75 major cities in descending order of difficulty to navigate due to poor gridlines, traffic, one-way streets, lack of signs, and other criteria. The cities were rated on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the hardest to navigate and 1 the easiest. Here are the top 5 hardest cities to navigate through with their final difficulty scores:

  1.   Boston, MA: 86.9
  2.   Washington, D.C.: 75.7
  3.   San Francisco – Oakland, CA: 71.9
  4.   Baltimore, MD: 71.3
  5.   New York, NY – Northeastern NJ: 70.5

 

Top 5 Worst Cities For Drivers – In 2014, Nerdwallet calculated the worst cities to own and drive a car in based on costs of ownership (local gas prices and car insurance premiums), population density, average time spent in traffic, and the average amount of rain and snowfall; the article adds that thankfully most of the cities on this list have comprehensive public transit systems in place to avoid road traffic in a personal vehicle. Property Casualty 360 provides some additional details how each city earned its place on the list below:

  1.   New York City, NY
  • Annual Hours of Delay per Commuter: 59
  • Average Gas Prices: $3.95
  • Average Insurance Premium: $1,614.71
  • Average Number of Days with Precipitation per Year: 113
  • Population Density (People per Square Mile): 27,012.4
  • Score for Car Owners: 32.73

 

  1. Detroit, MI
  • Annual Hours of Delay per Commuter: 40
  • Average Gas Prices: $3.90
  • Average Insurance Premium: $4,924.99
  • Average Number of Days with Precipitation per Year: 128
  • Population Density (People per Square Mile): 5,144.3
  • Score for Car Owners: 38.95

 

  1. San Francisco, CA
  • Annual Hours of Delay per Commuter: 61
  • Average Gas Prices: $4.23
  • Average Insurance Premium: $1,013.90
  • Average Number of Days with Precipitation per Year: 67
  • Population Density (People per Square Mile): 17,197.2
  • Score for Car Owners: 43.70

 

  1. Chicago, IL
  • Annual Hours of Delay per Commuter: 51
  • Average Gas Prices: $4.12
  • Average Insurance Premium: $1,243.52
  • Average Number of Days with Precipitation per Year: 119
  • Population Density (People per Square Mile): 11,841.8
  • Score for Car Owners: 44.65

 

  1. Washington, D.C.
  • Annual Hours of Delay per Commuter: 67
  • Average Gas Prices: $3.89
  • Average Insurance Premium: $1,390.88
  • Average Number of Days with Precipitation per Year: 111
  • Population Density (People per Square Mile): 9,856.5
  • Score for Car Owners: 45.49

 

In case you are also wondering what the 5 best cities for driving are, here is a map from Nerdwallet along with the 5 worst cities:


Top 5 Worst Cities For Bicycling – Most streets in American cities do not take bicycles into consideration when infrastructure is renovated or redesigned, forcing them to share the road with automobiles that could easily lead to fatal accidents. Care 2 shared a list of cities that are probably the most dangerous places to ride your bike via Transportation For America:

  1.   Orlando/Kissimmee, FL
  2.   Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater, FL
  3.   Jacksonville, FL
  4.   Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Pompano, FL
  5.   Riverside/San Bernardino/Ontario, CA

 

Besides this list, Bicycling.com throws in Suffolk County on Long Island, NYC where it is not only dangerous to ride a bicycle, but actually frowned upon to do so by the locals. If you wonder why it’s so hard to navigate some major cities by bike, check out these visualizations of how disjointed city bike paths are in some very prominent cities from the Washington Post.

Top 5 Worst Cities For Pedestrians – The 20 most dangerous cities were ranked by the Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) for time spanning 2003-2012. The scores were determined by total pedestrian deaths (2003-2012), annual pedestrian deaths per 100,000 (2008-2012), and percentage of people commuting by foot (2008-2012). Pedestrian safety becomes more compromised the faster vehicles are allowed to travel and the narrower the sidewalks are. The national PDI score for the United States is 52.2, so you can get perspective on the severity of walking in the top 5 worst cities:

If you plan on relocating to these cities, you may be better off commuting by car (and don’t take the chance of jaywalking in these cities). However, as cities adopt more walkable urbanism policies and implement redesigns for streets, pedestrian safety can improve dramatically.

If you are considering a move to one of the more popular metro areas for work, the culture, or any other reason, it’s helpful to know what you’re in for so you know the best way to get around on a day to day basis. Most cities are undergoing change for the better in streamlining travel by installing more efficient public transit and updating neighborhood infrastructure for the betterment of the community, so have hope that when you arrive in your new city, things are already on the upswing.

(Editors note: And no matter where you live, traffic is a fact of life that we all have to deal with at some point or another. Sometimes it’s good to know that we’re all in this together!)