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Transportation

How London and Berlin's Daily Travel Habits Compare to the U.S.

Major European cities may use cars less, but they still have a long way to go.
Rush hour congestion on a Berlin highway.
Rush hour congestion on a Berlin highway.SP-Photo / Shutterstock.com

Americans are not the only ones still caught up in their love affair with the car. Although we may like to imagine Europe’s major cities to be veritable nirvanas for pedestrians and cyclists, two of the densest European metros—London and Berlin—remain seriously car-dependent. That’s according to a new report from the London School of Economics, which takes a detailed look at transit and mobility patterns in these two cities.

The chart below, which tracks kilometers driven per person from 1970-2008, shows that the U.S. remains the leading country for car use, while Europeans drive less. Indeed, 86 percent of American workers get to work by car, according to the U.S. Census. All of this confirms our expectations about America’s car-oriented, sprawling suburban pattern of development versus Europe’s more compact transit and pedestrian-friendly urban centers.