Tuesday 3 December 2013

Bikes are faster door-to-door than cars or public transport within 5-10km

Summary: Bikes are typically the fastest way to get from A to B within the inner city for common trips, especially at busy times. The distance threshold this holds true for obviously depends on several factors (traffic, riding speed, bike lanes, direct routes, familiarity) but most people will ultimately find it is at least 5-10km, which covers the majority of their trips.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Olgierd Rudak

Related Posts:
> See the Saving Time category of this blog.

1. Unique advantages of cycling that make it faster than driving or public transport
- Even putting aside all the other indirect ways cycling saves time (see: The many ways cycling saves time compared to cars and public transport), cycling is still actually the fastest way to get around the inner city for trips up to at least 5km. Depending on your experience, riding speed and route familiarity, this advantage can ultimately extend to trips up to distances of 10-15km.

AdvantageWhat makes cycling faster
Truly door to door; Park right outside- You really do ride the whole way from A to B. There's no significant walking to and from a train/tram/bus stop or parking spot/garage.
- You get to park right outside your destination.
No congestion- The limiting factor most of the time is mainly your own speed not other traffic. When cycling you can reliably know (5-10% margin) the time it will take to get from A to B.
Filtering past cars- You can filter past cars whenever they are backed up, such as at intersections. Cyclists rarely miss a green light because of traffic getting in the way.
Shortcuts, Few stops- You can take shortcuts, often at points where cars have to wait or take the long way round.
- Cyclists can also cross intersections at pedestrian crossings, thus always have a green light in one direction.
Spontaneous route changes- Cyclists can immediately change routes or get around obstructions more easily when necessary (heavy traffic, accidents).
No wasted time at start/end- You don't waste any time waiting for your train/tram/bus to arrive or getting your car in/out of its parking spot.
Control over trip urgency- If you're in a rush you have much greater ability to speed up and save time. Compare this control over time with waiting for passengers to get on/off a tram/train. Or the drivers in front of you at an intersection whose lack of urgency causes you to miss the green light.
Leapfrog others- Cyclists take up little space and can share bike lanes/paths much more efficiently to let faster/time-poor riders move ahead. Cars can rarely do this.
No fuel stops- No required stops on-route to fill up the tank.
Navigate destination - Cyclists can more efficiently ride around their destination looking for their friends or the exact point they wish to go.
Efficiency constantly grows- Cycling trip times continually decrease as your experience, fitness, route/shortcut familiarity and exploitation of other advantages increases.

2. My personal experience getting around Melbourne by bike from 2009 to 2014
- In my experience, in Melbourne, cycling has proven to be typically quicker (most destinations, most times of day) than cars or public transport at distances up to 15km. This distance covers 99% of the trips I make in the city. There is no regular trip I make in Melbourne which isn't fastest on my bike.

- My typical riding speed is around 25km/hr. My A to B moving speed over more than 7000km is around 22km/hr.

- As a result, I regularly save time by being the last to leave or first to arrive.

- Public transport is virtually never faster door-to-door up to 15km. Trams are never faster. Trains are rarely faster and only if the distance is over 15km.

- In the few situations (night time, little traffic, no time lost parking) where cars are faster up to 15km, the difference is minimal (a few minutes). This is because cities aren't drag race strips, there are limits (speed limits, intersections, safety, etc.) to how much time you can save purely by having a vehicle that can go very fast.

3. Google Maps Directions transport times indicate cycling is generally the fastest for at least trips from 0.5km to 4km
- If you use Google Maps Directions and switch between the transport modes (driving, cycling, walking, public transport) you can get travel time estimates for the route itself. The MIT You Are Here mapping project team have created visual, interactive maps for selected cities that illustrate which modes are fastest to the destination after you select your origin. See: This Map Shows You The Fastest Way to Get Anywhere In Your City

- For example, from the Upper East Side in central Manhattan, cycling is quickest to 69% of destinations while driving is quickest to 24% and public transport only 6%. Trying a variety of inner city locations in all of the cities for which You Are Here provides these visual maps consistently showed cycling is typically the quickest mode for at least distances from 0.5km to 4km. For cyclists who ride faster or those riding in circumstances that are most advantageous (see table above) this distance may be as high as 10-15km.

You Are Here: Best mode of transportation

Further Info:
New Study Shows Urban Cycling Is Faster Than Driving

It's slow going for cars in Melbourne during peak-hour congestion