New Study Shows Urban Cycling Is Faster Than Driving

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A woman biking with a helmet in an urban setting.

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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 programme collects information on where each bike starts and stops, and how long it takes.

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.