Wednesday 11 December 2013

The many ways cycling saves time compared to cars and public transport

Summary: Getting around cities efficiently is about saving time overall not the max speed of your vehicle on an empty road. This post counts the numerous ways cycling saves time compared to the alternatives. Do the math yourself and estimate how much time per year you could save by cycling.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Marcin Wichary

- For over 95% of my city trips, I save time by cycling compared to using a car or public transport. This is primarily due to all the time sinks that cycling eliminates, not because the top speed of my bicycle is faster than a car or train. In this post, I will document these time sinks which should be considered as part of your total time spent each year on transport.

- See also: > Bikes are faster door-to-door than cars or public transport within 10km

Time SinkWasted by Using a CarWasted by Public Transport
Stationary or slow trafficStuck in traffic jams and at intersectionsTrams run behind other trams and often share roads with cars. Trains often wait due to busy rail networks. Buses share the road
Walking to your transportCars often can't be parked right outside the destinationPublic transport almost never drops you at your specific destination
Waiting for your transportThe ability to just go isn't always in your control (taxi, parking attendant, friend, valet)There's a wait (typically 10-20min in Melbourne) and it's best to be a little early. Transport also doesn't run (or runs infrequently) during certain times.
Waiting for other passengersYou're only as quick as your slowest passengerRequired stops and many fellow passengers you can't hurry along
ParkingLooking for a free spot or using a parking facilityStart and End stops (especially train stations) can be time consuming
Fuel / TicketGo somewhere regularly to fill up the tankGot to obtain, top-up and use tickets to ride
ServicingGo somewhere every 3-6 months to get maintenance done. Plus your own minor maintenanceAll good but even PT sometimes breaks down
Accidents & DisruptionsAccidents and disruptions get you stuckNetwork, signal and breakdown disruptions can't be avoided
Your BreakdownsBattery or car failure and organising roadside assistanceRare but your PT vehicle can breakdown
Registration / CardsGet your registration and e-tags and keep them currentObtain and renew your PT card
Fines, InsuranceSpeeding, parking and other fines; Organising and updating insurancePossible no-ticket fines and ticket hassles
CleaningCar washes and your own cleaningN/A
PermitsParking permits and other permits requiredN/A
Purchase, Lease, SaleBuying, selling, paying for and replacing your car is a massive time sinkN/A
Earning the CostsCars are expensive and require much more time spent earning money to pay for themPublic transport is cheaper than a car but still requires significantly more time spent earning the money to pay for it compared to cycling

Further Info:
The Urban Country: Urban Bicycling Is For Lazy People