Saturday, December 4, 2010

Smart Bike Data Shows Urban Cycling Is Faster Than Driving

lyon bike share speed photo

For all those politicians who think that roads are for cars, here are some interesting data from Lyon, France: bikes are faster. According to MIT's Technology Review (via Grist) the Lyon bike sharing program collects information on where each bike starts and stops, and how long it takes.
lyon bike share speed photo map

The data were analyzed by Pablo Jensen at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, who found:
Over an average trip, cyclists travel 2.49 km in 14.7 minutes so their average speed is about 10 km/h. That compares well with the average car speed in inner cities across Europe. During the rush hour, however, the average speed rises to almost 15 km/h, a speed which outstrips the average car speed. And that's not including the time it takes to find a place to park which is much easier for a Velo bike than a car.
One supposes that the rush hour cyclists are kind of more likely to rush, while the mid-day cyclists are a little more lackadaisical.


Another interesting finding that the bike-haters will pounce on is the fact that the cyclists didn't necessarily follow the same routes as the drivers.
The data also shows that bike journeys between two points are shorter in distance than the corresponding journey by car. There are no bike lanes in Lyon so this suggests that cyclists use other techniques to make short cuts, say Jensen and co. Their shocking conclusion is that cyclists often ride on the pavement, along bus lanes and the wrong way up one way streets.
However it might also mean that cyclists take direct routes, whereas drivers sometimes take longer routes that have wider, faster roads. This kind of information will be useful for urban planners. For the first time they have real data to show where to build cycle lanes and how well they will be used. We can expect to see more of this kind of analysis as data from smart bike systems in other cities becomes available too.

More at MIT Technology Review

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