It is that time of year when the clocks change and, now, we get daft reports about Belfast being the “(third) most congested” city in the UK.
Such reports are garbage. They are alarmingly symptomatic of a modern society where people do not take time to analyse things properly.
What the reports actually assess is the difference between a city at its most congested (typically morning rush hour outside holidays) and a city at its least congested. In Belfast, this difference is the third largest in the UK, down from first last year.
This may make Belfast the most congested city, but it may just as easily make it the least congested (if, for example, its rush hour were fairly typical but its non-rush hour were the most free-flowing). Most likely, it is distinctly average – with a rush hour that is slightly worse than most places (not least given higher public sector employment which is more typically 9-5 than any other type), but the rest of the time is slightly better.
Belfast “neither particularly good not particularly bad” would not be much of a headline. That doesn’t mean it isn’t so!