The English capital (in eighth place), Cardiff (ninth), Dublin (10th) Edinburgh (11th) and Belfast (12th) were all in the bottom half of a 13-strong ease-of-travel city table compiled by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).
Stockholm was judged to be the best European city to get around without a car, followed by Helsinki, Prague, Paris and Berlin.
Only Rome, in 13th and last place, was deemed to be less “green” and public transport-friendly than the British Isles’ main cities.
The cities were judged on 16 categories, including ease of access to public transport, public attitudes to car use, congestion levels and the side effects from cars.
London had the worst air quality and congestion of all the cities examined in the study. Londoners are also subjected to the highest fares.
Public transport in Cardiff was cheaper than in the other UK capitals, but the city had the second lowest number of public transport trips per day and the lowest number of people commuting by public transport.
Edinburgh was second only to London for congestion and worse than Rome or Paris. Belfast finished bottom of all the UK capitals despite having the longest cycling and public transport networks.
CBT chief executive Stephen Joseph said: “Car dependency damages communities, affects our quality of life and has huge environmental consequences, so the UK cities’ poor standing should be of major concern to politicians.
“To catch up with the best in Europe the UK Governments need to recognise the economic benefits of good air quality and road safety, and ensure public transport, walking and cycling are comparable to car use in terms of cost, journey time and quality.”