Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Commuter races

I have just looked at EcoVelo and they write about yet another commuter race, this time in Bristol, UK (Original text here). The outcome was exactly as expected: cycling is the fastest option. But... (there are many "buts" here):
- the test was done during rush hour in heavy traffic,
- it was in the city center,
- the distance was only 5.5km (3.5mi).
No wonder that the cyclist won (17min.) and the runner finished second (28min.). Third was the bus (39min.) and then the car (53min.). It took the driver 53 minutes to drive 5.5km!

This is exactly why all these commuter races stop making sense at some point. They all show the obvious that could be figured out without the race happening at all. No wonder that in such a heavy traffic and short distance cycling is the best option.
Comic strip from http://www.yehudamoon.com

But what if we try something different? Let's see:

- test done in the suburbs,
- distance of 10.5km (6.5mi),
- very light car traffic, even during rush hours,
- almost no public transportation.
Yes, this is how my work commute looks like, as I described it before. In the morning it takes 15min. to cover this distance by car and 25min. by bike. There is a bus line, but it goes around other towns and takes 19min. between the closest bus stops. I would have to walk 42min. from/to the bus stops. The total travel time by bus would be over 1hr. I haven't tried running, but it is not going to be faster than driving or cycling.

This is my point here: of course, bike is faster in a heavy car traffic. But I would love to see more commuter races done in different scenarios when results are not always that obvious.

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