How much faster does city traffic move now compared to horse-and buggy days?

Traffic these days is not much faster than when there were horses on the street, alas. The average speed of a horse-drawn carriage traveling in a big city a century ago was about eight miles per hour.

The average speed of a car driving through New York City today, —accounting for traffic lights, pedestrians, double-parked trucks, and normal traffic congestion—is only 9.9 mph. In San Francisco, the most congested major American city, the average speed is even slower.

However bad that sounds, the worst major city in the world to travel through is Calcutta. This is according to the international courier company DHL, which makes it its business to know such things.

To travel 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) through the jostling crowds of humans and livestock, it would take you an average of four hours and thirty minutes—roughly two-thirds of a mile per hour.

If it’s any consolation, traffic’s been an urban problem for millennia. In the first century B.C., Julius Caesar banned chariot traffic from Rome during daylight hours.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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