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Traffic, Jams, Navigation in Riga and Latvia

Riga might be quite a complicated city for navigation for a non-local driver. There are non-obvious junctions, intersections of more than two roads, signs that forbid turning left and other troubles that might make driving complicated to a non-familiar with Riga driver.

“Lane must turn” signs are not always consistent. For example, there might be a “Right lane must turn right” sign and you should choose a left lane for driving straight on a first intersection. But the next intersection will require you to move to the right side because only left turns will be allowed from the left lane.

Sometimes “Lane must turn” signs cannot be seen from the place where you join the traffic queue. You’ll probably be allowed to change lane in a middle of queue if you have a non-local license plate on your car. But if you have a local license plate this might be a bit complicated. Make it your principle to join a lane with queue if you see a few lanes with one that has traffic on it. Even if the lane you’ve chosen is wrong, changing to a free lane is always easier than changing a lane in the middle of a queue.

There might be some troubles with navigation software when you come to intersection of more than two roads. Software probably won’t be able to announce you how to behave on a such intersection. You will have to look at the screen to analyze the road configuration and compare it to reality to choose a right direction.

Riga’s traffic jams cannot be of course compared say to Moscow jams. But traffic can be rather high-dense. Driving from one district on a one side of the city to the one on another might take about 1.5 hours. While when there’s no traffic such drive will take only about 20 minutes.

traffic

We think that traffic problems in Riga are mostly related to the fact that Riga is divided in half by bridges and their capacity is just not enough in a rush-hours. Some districts of the city are also divided by railways. To enter or exit such a district you will have to go through a rail crossing which can be closed when a train is passing.

High-dense traffic is usual in Riga at the following time:

  • in the morning (8-10am): at entrance highways to Riga, at exits of residential areas, at entrances of industrial districts, at rail crossings, at bridges, at city center.
  • in the evening(4-7pm): at exits to other cities from Riga, at bridges

The most popular navigation software in Latvia is Waze. A lot of Latvian drivers use it. It’s a fair assumption to say that you it provides the most up to date information about traffic, accidents, police traps, gas prices and so on. Waze is also good at fast routes calculation and works great in Riga and in a whole Latvia. The only problem with Waze is that it requires a connection to internet. That’s why we recommend to buy a local mobile operator SIM-card and set up the internet.