December 11, 2010

Bikes in Rush Hour

Hat tip to CH for the following:

Bike Computer Study Proves Rush-Hour Cycling Is Faster Than Driving

The title might be a bit misleading, because the study is only concerned with the city of Lyon, France. The Velo'v bikeshare program there enjoys robust ridership, and now has data to show that using it is the most efficient means of transportation during rush hour.
According to MIT's Physics arXiv Blog, the average speed of cyclists was approximately six miles an hour (the average inner city car speed in Europe). But during rush hour, cyclists traveled faster, at an average of nine miles an hour, beating local vehicles. For the first time, researchers have confirmation that cyclists pedal faster between 7:45 am and 8:45 am on weekdays, suggesting a rush to get to work.
Cyclists went especially fast on Wednesday mornings. This is probably a quirk of French culture, according to the researchers; women often stay home to take care of kids on Wednesdays, so the bike pool is mostly composed of men, who pedal more quickly.
The fact that the data showed average faster speeds on Wednesdays due to higher proportions of male riders is simply outstanding. Data!

And crazily enough, Lyon doesn't even have bike lanes--which seems incongruous in light of how successful its bike share program is. I am not familiar with the city at all, so perhaps the streets are such that bicyclists do not feel as threatened as I do when biking on bike lane-less city roads in Boston or San Francisco. The article suggests that cyclists use the bus lane, which if properly separated from car traffic, could be quite useful.

And on the comments board, a reader made the claim that Top Gear, the BBC automobile TV show, knew about the bicycle advantage years ago. As a longtime fan of Top Gear, I investigated. The following episode originally aired in November of 2007, and featured a race across rush hour London. The contestants: a bicycle, a car, public transit, and a speed boat. Skip to half way through the video, and enjoy.

Top Gear Season 10 Episode 5 - Full 'Epi

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