How to Avoid Major City Traffic

how to avoid major city traffic

Cities bring us incredible opportunities for work, networking, social interaction or pleasure. Unfortunately, we often have to deal with traffic jams alongside. 

Whether you live in Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal, traffic jams are common in most Canadian cities. According to a study from Inrix, the average Canadian spends up to 27 hours in traffic every year. 

If you’re worried about how much time you’re losing, the good news is there are viable strategies to circumvent heavy traffic. These include practical tips to avoid traffic plus innovative ways you can cut your way through it. 

Our goal is to put an end to your traffic nightmare using this article. Read on to find out how to avoid major traffic in any Canadian city.

The Most Effective Traffic Avoidance Tips

If you’re using a vehicle, how to avoid major city traffic can seem like an unsolvable mystery. But with these strategies, you can zip around town without any major traffic delays.

Use Driving Apps

The most obvious tip to avoid major city traffic is to use a driving app such as Waze, Apple Maps, or Google Maps. These apps don’t just show you the shortest possible journey, they’ll do so in the context of real-time traffic information. They constantly provide updates so if there is a traffic jam ahead, you can try an alternative route. 

To enjoy the best of driving apps, it’s best to install a phone holder in your vehicle. This way, you can check for alternative routes without taking your eyes off the road.

Leave a Little Bit Earlier

It may sound mundane, but leaving for your destination a bit earlier may solve your traffic issues. We know it can feel like wasted time getting to work or another destination ahead of time. But in reality, it’s a strategy for avoiding traffic in big cities that also offers added benefits. 

The biggest factor is not having to deal with stress and anxiety from sitting in traffic for a long time. Even if you find yourself in traffic, you’ll be much calmer since you won’t worry about being late.

The trick to utilizing this method is using your time judiciously. If you get to the office early, you can take your time grabbing a coffee and prepping for your workday. You’ll probably see an increase in your overall productivity.

Take Side Streets

As good as modern driving apps are, they usually don’t suggest taking small side streets. These side streets can be your secret weapon against major city traffic in Montreal and Ottawa. 

When there’s no traffic on the main roads, side streets are a long way around. However, they can save you plenty of time during a gridlock. 

If you’re unfamiliar with your city’s side streets, then you can start experimenting. Explore the map on your mobile phone and try to identify where possible shortcuts are. 

Know Your Alternatives

A key part of how to avoid major city traffic is understanding there’s always an alternative route to every location. In most Canadian cities, there are several ways to get to the same destination. The best part is alternative routes aren’t necessarily farther than main routes. 

It’s good to know these alternatives, so you have a few routes up your sleeve. Traffic in a city can appear very random. On some days a route will be busy while it’ll be clear on other days — even at the same time. 

The option to instantly switch between routes allows you to navigate around these random patterns. As with the side streets, it’s better to experiment first if you’re new to the city. 

Avoid Traffic Bottlenecks

Driving apps may be able to provide up-to-date information but they can’t predict future traffic patterns. There’ll be areas in a city where traffic builds up at specific parts of the day. It’s good to observe what’s going on while driving and see if any patterns are forming.

The most obvious example of this is an area with many schools. At the opening and closing times, they’ll get a huge volume of traffic. Sports stadiums, business parks and gas stations are other areas that can experience bottlenecks. The best thing to do is to inspect your route beforehand and avoid these hotspots.

Ask for Flexible Hours

9-to-5 has become the unofficial international standard for working hours. It’s a situation that has led to the creation of rush hours. 8-10 am, and 4-6 pm will almost always be the busiest periods for traffic in a major Canadian city.

Due to this, ask your work if you can shift your working times. You can come up with a few options, such as shifting your start time forward or back. Another option is to work longer on some days and shorter on others. Starting your day at 7.30 am, for example, can help you enjoy a huge difference in travel times.  

Work from Home

work from home

More people are working from home than ever before. You’ll never need to worry about traffic if your daily commute involves walking from your bed into your home office. Unfortunately, this isn’t an option for many employees. But, we do recommend talking to your supervisor about it.

Working from home — even for one or two days a week — can help to reduce your stress levels. One upside to the pandemic has been companies recognizing the value of workers meeting deliverables from home. Therefore, there’s precedence for asking your boss if this flexibility is an option.

Embrace the Traffic

Sometimes it feels like no matter how hard you try; you just can’t avoid the traffic. If you do get caught in a jam, embrace the traffic by expanding your horizons. 

See it as an opportunity to advance your knowledge, lose yourself in a great story or take in the latest album.

You can see your vehicle as your sanctuary. Put on an audiobook, podcast, or music and relax as best you can. Thinking about traffic differently may well have a calming effect. 

Related Article: Transportation Improvements to Try in Your City

How to Avoid Major City Traffic: Alternative Transportation Options

If the tips above are not enough to manage your traffic situation, you need to do something more drastic. It may be time to leave your car at home and find another way to get to your destination. Here we take a look at your best options. 

Public Transport

public transport

It may not have the same comfort level as your car, but public transport can be a great way to avoid traffic in your area. The city you’re in likely has multiple methods of transportation available to the public. 

Whether you’re getting a tram, bus, train, or subway, you may be pleasantly surprised. You can try each one and then see how long each journey takes you. It can be that a combination of services ultimately leads to the best results.

Regular and Electric bikes

Cities are getting friendlier towards cyclists. We’ve seen this in Vancouver, where cycling is a huge part of its “2040 Plan,” and Montreal’s implementation of a “Cycling Action Plan” to make its streets more accessible.

You may be thinking your destination is a little too far for regular cycling. If so, then invest in an electric bike. This will take a lot of the physical effort away and allow you to get to your stop quickly, easily, and without breaking a sweat. 

The advantages of buying an electric bike are huge as you’ll never need to worry about what the traffic is doing. You’ll also find that the average speed you can achieve will often be a lot higher than vehicles stuck in traffic. Added benefits include improved physical and mental health. 


There is something oddly enjoyable about walking past a traffic jam. You get that smug sense of self-satisfaction as you serenely stroll past the static sedans and SUV’s. You’ll also see the world from a different point of view while walking.

Distance is the biggest inhibitor to walking, but it remains a great idea if your destination is within two miles. You’ll feel happier for it and burn some calories too. You can even put on a pair of headphones and get lost in your little world.

Electric Scootering

Would walking be a little too slow for you? Well, e-scooters are revolutionizing the way that we travel. With an electric scooter, you have all the same mobility as a walker while going much faster.

One of the biggest benefits of an electric scooter is that it’ll take you right to the front door of your destination. Often with vehicles, you have to find a distant parking spot and then walk for the rest of your journey. 

An e-scooter can breeze past any traffic jam with agility and ease. You can fold an e-scooter up and take it to your desk if you work in an office. It’s no surprise that an increasing number of people are turning to a scooter for their transportation. 

Related Article: The Best Electric Bike Selections for a Toronto Lifestyle

Final Thoughts

Traffic doesn’t need to be the bane of your life. There are different answers to how to avoid major city traffic. With a little planning ahead or driving apps, you won’t be stuck in the same traffic jam every morning.

We’ve also explored the benefit of leaving your car at home and trying something different. Whatever tips and tricks you pick, hopefully, you find a solution that works for you. 

Here at Epic Cycles Canada, we can provide a varied collection of electric bikes if you’re looking to go that route. Look through our online store today!