Cities: Skylines is an incredibly robust and complicated city-management sim that fulfilled the dreams of prospective city planners worldwide upon its 2015 release. All the hallmarks of a good city builder are here, from district zoning, to power grid, and utilities management. There’s also a heavy dose of infrastructure oversight in the form of the placement of schools, hospitals, fire departments, and police stations. Also, there’s the issue of road layouts, the bane of every desktop civil engineer.
Roads are hands down one of the toughest parts of building a good town in Cities: Skylines. It’s not enough to simply connect one side of town to another — traffic needs to flow smoothly, which is not always a simple prospect. In this guide, we’ll offer up some tips when it comes to mapping out roadways, and present solutions to some of the more common frustrations of Cities: Skylines’ streets.
Understand the Different Types of Roads
When beginning your city, it’s important to understand the different types of roads available to you. There are several street styles, from a standard two-lane road to giant six-lane thoroughfares. There are also one and two direction streets. Different roads will create different intersection types when crossing one another. For example, two lane roads do not produce any traffic signals when intersecting, and roads with trees along the medium reduce noise pollution, which helps when expanding your city. It’s also important to know that while you can upgrade and downgrade roads, you can never upgrade from a one way road to a two way road.
In terms of traffic flow, two lane roads tend to be the best option to keep cars moving. This is because they don’t spawn any traffic signals. Even better are one way roads. The trade off is that they don’t accommodate as many vehicles, but smooth traffic more than makes up for it.
Check the Traffic Flow Map
Cities: Skylines includes a heat map that visualizes how well the traffic is flowing in your city. The red stretches are the problem spots: they’re where traffic tends to get stuck and slow down a lot. It’s always important to attempt to alleviate these issues, but don’t let them dictate your every little bit of road. While they do indicate highly-trafficked areas, they don’t always indicate that something needs to be done. This is to say that if a particular intersection or stretch of roadway appears red on the heat map, don’t go demolishing half your city trying to correct it. If cars are flowing fast enough, don’t worry about it!
Download These Mods
If you’d like some community assistance with the traffic problems in your city, there are a ton of fantastic mods on the Steam Workshop. They’re built by players who have found clever solutions to many of the game’s traffic woes. Here are some of our favorites:
This all-in-one mod by LinuxFan adds an enormous number of features and control to the traffic mechanic in Cities: Skylines, like yield and stop signs, timed traffic lights, speed limits, vehicle restrictions, and more. You can also clear traffic completely and merge lanes with one another. If you feel like the tools included in the base game aren’t robust enough, this mod ought to help you out. Download it here.
Timboh’s Marvelous Interchange Emporium
This is actually a collection of mod items. Each one is a different style of roundabout or traffic interchange, with many of them being based on real-world examples. Roundabouts are a sure-fire way to keep traffic moving in your city, but the in-game tools are not as robust as you might like. Plop down one of these bad boys watch your traffic woes disappear. Download it here.
Want more mods? We have a guide rounding up six of our favorite Cities: Skylines mods.
By far the best way to help with the traffic flow in your city is to build roundabouts. These marvels of civil engineering keep the traffic moving at a brisk pace. If you find on your traffic heat map that a particular intersection is red with slowdown, consider replacing it with a roundabout. Cities: Skylines includes some basic roundabout building tools that easily let you place them into your town. We don’t particularly recommend using them without the previously mentioned Traffic Manager Mod, however. If you don’t have the mod, build your own roundabouts for optimal traffic flow!
And those are our tips for keeping the traffic flow nice and smooth in Cities: Skylines. Have any solutions that aren’t mentioned here? Drop them in the comments below!