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The Best Day to Ride?

According to the French, if you’re looking for speed the best day to ride might be Wednesday.

Located at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône Rivers and with a population of almost a half-million, Lyon and its suburbs is the second-largest metro area in France (Paris, of course, is the largest).  Five years ago, Lyon introduced a shared-bicycle system in an attempt to reduce the gridlock that had been plaguing this community.  The program, called Velo’v, now offers almost 4000 bicycles at nearly 350 locations throughout the city.  By all measures it has been wildly successful, with some 16000 journeys by bicycle being completed *per day* — and as a side note, this means that each bicycle is being used an average of four separate times each day!

Since its introduction, the system has kept track of the start and
finishing location plus travel time of every journey.  A group of researchers examined 11.6 million bicycle trips in Lyon between May 2005
and December 2007.

Some of what they found is unsurprising. 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 15km/h, a speed which outstrips the average car speed (and that’s not including the time needed to park the car).

Other results reveal the habits of the urban cyclist for the first
time. For example, there is a clear peak in average speed at 7:45 am and
8:45 am on working days, when presumably there is rush to get to work.
The average speed drops to a more leisurely 10 km/h at weekends.

Curiously, the Wednesday morning speeds are systematically higher
than on other days, even though there is no change in other factors such
as the number of cars. This, according to the researchers, is probably because
women tend to stay at home and look after their children on a Wednesday
in France, so their hypothesis is that higher proportion of men pushes up the average speed.

Some other information, unfortunately, tends to show that the bad habits of cycling might very well be universal.  For example, the data also shows that bike journeys between two points are shorter
in distance than the corresponding journey by car. As there are no bike
lanes in Lyon this suggests that cyclists use other techniques to
make short cuts — such as riding on the sidewalk, along bus lanes, and the wrong way up one way streets.

More details at http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/26092/


5 Replies

Amanda, December 12, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Are you snowed in, too?


“Bicycle Bill”, December 12, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Amanda said: Are you snowed in, too?

Technically, no.  We did get about 10-12 inches of snow out of this, and we are still under a blizzard warning until 6:00 PM tonight, but I’m able to get my car out and onto the roads.  It’s just that — with the exception of going over to Mother’s place and shoveling off her sidewalk — there’s really no place I need to get to until time to go to work tomorrow afternoon, so I’m sitting here in front of the computer with the Packers game on the TV in the background.

Did have to go out yesterday during the storm — needed to get to church as I was scheduled to lector — and the driving conditions were … well … *interesting*, to say the least.  Lots of places were already closed down by 5:00 or 6:00; a lot of places that did stay open past that (mostly taverns and restaurants) still shut down early; and I didn’t see a lot of evidence that the plows were out and about.

The one good thing about living up north like this, though, is that this sort of thing happens at least a couple of times a year, so most of us who live here know it’s coming and act accordingly; and we are prepared to clean up and get back on track ASAP.  As I type this it’s almost 3:00 PM.  It had stopped snowing before I got up this AM, and the big orange trucks with the big steel blades *ARE* out and doing their thing.  By the time I need to get to work tomorrow Mother Nature will have been well and truly beaten into submission, and we will be back to what passes for normal at this time of year in Wisconsin.



SFC JKL 2, December 13, 2010 at 10:30 am

“Laughing all the way” here in North GA.  School was canceled at 6:00pm yesterday because we had a forecast for an inch of snow.  We didn’t get enough to cover the ground.  I had about a snowball’s worth around one tire of my car this morning.

The key down here is they don’t know how to build roads.  They are flat, use steep angles, and have virtually no shoulder.  Rain and even leaves make them dangerous.  But calling off school before a flake hits the ground is rediculous, even for them.


Michrider !!!, December 13, 2010 at 2:10 pm

The best day to ride is tomorrow, it’s only a day away!


nwiabikr, December 18, 2010 at 9:58 pm

My favorite is the first day of RAGBRAI each year as everyone is in such an extra festive mood.


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