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Worst City for Traffic Congestion in Europe Named

Traffic congestion in Europe is increasing, with Istanbul topping the list of the cities with the worst congestion on the continent, according to the latest "Congestion Index" by navigation producer TomTom.

Due to its situation on the Bosphorus, Istanbul is seen as a city embodying the best of Asia and Europe, with an envious economy to boot. Now, however, it has been "awarded" the undesirable title of "most congested" based on a survey of 58 European cities.

Nick Cohn, congestion academic at TomTom who oversees the analysis, told CNBC that it was the first time that Istanbul had been included in the quarterly survey.

"We thought it was interesting that Istanbul came top of the list as the city is new to our analysis, " he said. " I think the reason why is because the city has encountered rapid economic growth but it has physical characteristics that make it challenging to navigate, such as lots of bridges and tunnels."

High traffic congestion has an indirect impact on a city's economy, Cohn pointed out.

"For people stuck in traffic there are lots of issues of lost productivity, transporting goods becomes harder and deliveries are made late, congestion creates extra fuel costs and of course, environmental costs, " he said. "Traffic is never a good thing."

If economic development is to "blame" for Istanbul's unfortunate traffic accolade, it begs the question why Leeds-Bradford and Birmingham in the U.K., weighed down by recession and an economic downturn , are also the fastest growing congested cities in Europe.

Cohn told CNBC that the cities shared similarly out-dated "network configurations" that exacerbated congestion in Istanbul. The "main commuting routes are extremely congested" in Britain's northern cities, helping them outrank London, the U.K.'s largest city.

TomTom says its survey is the world's most accurate barometer of congestion in urban areas. Interestingly some of the biggest decreases in congestion were seen in Milan and Rome, cities renowned for traffic gridlock.

According to the survey, Warsaw was second most congested city in Europe, followed by Marseille, Palermo and Rome.

Collated from April to June 2012, the data showed the worst days for congestion were on days of extreme wind, storms and rain, indicating that no matter how good your city's roads or urban planning are, the weather has a big part to play in the length of time it takes to get home.

Contact Europe: Economy

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