A STUDY OUT OF Texas A&M puts Austin’s rush-hour traffic as the third worst in the country, behind L.A. and D.C. and tied with NYC and the Bay Area. For the second year in a row.
The rankings are based on a “travel time index” that compares the duration of drives made during rush hour to how long the same drives take in free-flow or nonexistent traffic (e.g., in the middle of the night). Austin’s index is 1.28, which means it takes 28% longer to get somewhere during rush hour.
I’m guessing people who’ve never visited — have never experienced the joy of the 5:30pm I-35 parking lot — might be surprised that Austin hangs with the big boys when it comes to traffic disaster.
But for those of us 1.7 million proud metro-area dwellers, there is no shock. When we’re 30-60min late for an appointment / meeting / band practice, we just blame it on the traffic and all is forgiven. Kinda handy that way.
If you’re visiting Austin, here are some ways to avoid the jam:
- For god’s sake, stay off 35 (and the streets in general, if possible) during rush hour. The last thing we need is your tourist ass clogging the works.
- Take the bus or our adorably limited metro rail.
- Rent a bike and make use of our plentiful bicycle lanes. If you’re based in or near downtown, which you probably will be, getting around on two wheels is simple and pretty fun. Rent at Mellow Johnny’s, University Cyclery, Barton Springs, Waterloo Cycles, and probably a dozen others.
- Check out our Car2go program. It’s a Smart Car car-share operation that’s intended for residents, but if you’ll be here for a while it might justify the $35 signup fee. You still have to watch out for rush hour, but this way if traffic gets too intolerable you can just ditch the car and walk.