Greater Greater Washington

Bicycling


Bicycling is the fastest way to travel in downtown DC

Bicycling is among the lowest-cost ways to travel through a city, and has health and fitness advantages, too. But the most direct practical benefit of bicycling comes when it's also the quickest way to travel. In downtown DC, it usually is.


Photo by DDOTDC on Flickr.

Using the recently released Capital Bikeshare trip data and trip plans from Google Maps, I compared travel times for trips between pairs CaBi stations in downtown DC. If parking takes only 5 minutes, the median Capital Bikeshare rider traveled faster than a car more than ¾ of the time.

For all but the slowest riders, bicycling is always faster than transit and walking. For some trips, it is the fastest option of all.


25 trips around downtown DC

The analysis

I picked 25 random station pairs in downtown DC (1 mile radius around Metro Center, shown above) for this study. For each origin-destination pair, the Capital Bikeshare trip data gave me a large number of bicycle trip time measurements, but I needed to know how long the trip would take by other modes like car, transit or walking.

Since no data sets exist for those modes, I used Google Maps' time estimates as a proxy. A comparison of Google's bike trip time predictions with real data from Capital Bikeshare riders returned a strong correlation (r = 0.93), confirming that Google's estimates are probably a sufficiently accurate replacement.

For Capital Bikeshare trip data, I started with the data set cleaned up by Corey Holman. The data set contains over 1.3 million trips over a period of about 14 months.

But one major issue remained. I needed to make sure the data measured the direct trip time between a pair of stations. While most Capital Bikeshare trips are frequent riders going directly from one station to another, some trips are tourists taking a long leisure ride that just happens to start and end at these stations. Since I was only interested in direct trips, I only considered trips taken by registered users.

The graph below illustrates a sample station pair. You can see that registered users (in red) have a very different pattern of trip times than casual users (in purple). Registered users take trips of slightly different durations depending on their speed and exact route, but they seem to be going fairly directly from point to point, as their trip times follow a normal distribution with a long right tail. Casual users' trip durations are wildly different and don't follow as clear a pattern.


Histogram showing the distribution of all trip times from 19th & Constitution to 19th & L.

In the diagram above, the black tire track shows driving time while the green line shows bike time from Google. The stacked bars show Capital Bikeshare trip times for registered (red) and casual (purple) users. The peaked distribution between 6-12 minutes reflects direct trips, and the longer trips reflect leisure rides. The pink dot shows the trip time of the fastest 10% rider; the red dot shows the median rider.

The results

The final results are shown in the figure below. The fastest 10% of riders, traveling at 10 miles per hour, were faster than a car trip with parking time added in every trip studied100%.

While an average rider on a bike, traveling nearly 8 miles per hour, will rarely beat a direct car trip without traffic or parking over the same distance, the fastest riders have a decent shot. When bike trips are compared to a direct car trip (like being chauffeured), the median rider was faster in 4% of trips studied. The fastest 10% of riders were still faster in 24% of trips. But in the real world, where cars have to find parking, bicyclists win big, whether they're fast riders or average ones.


Percentage of trips where biking is faster, depending on a Bikeshare user's speed. The graph on the left assumes direct car trips, the graph on the right assumes 5 minutes of parking time.

To be sure, these comparisons are not perfect. Both driving and cycling times have caveats.

For driving times, Google Maps no longer considers traffic delays in their trip time calculations, but rush hour gridlock in downtown DC will add huge delays to car trips, when bikes can zip through. In the bike trip data, I could help compensate for daily variation in weather and traffic by randomly selecting only one of several trips per day between a pair of stations, but this was not possible for driving times.

Second, even assuming 5 minutes of parking time is charitable to drivers. Donald Shoup reports (PDF) an average of 8 minutes of time spent cruising for parking, in multiple studies from multiple cities. That doesn't even include the time spent paying a meter or getting out of a garage.

These travel times only count trips from one Capital Bikeshare station to another station, not the walking times to and from Capital Bikeshare stations. Therefore, they most closely reflect the times for people bicycling on their own bikes. Trips using Capital Bikeshare take a few extra minutes. While some people are lucky enough to be located very close to a CaBi station, most of us have to walk a couple of minutes to the nearest station.

A more sophisticated study could use arbitrary trips on the downtown grid to estimate the extra walking time for Capital Bikeshare trips, and better estimate the time Washington drivers actually spend in traffic and parking.

Despite these caveats, my results are not anomalous. A related study in Lyon, France, agrees that shared bikes were faster than cars in the central city.

That study used precise trip distance information from a "counter on the bike," which unfortunately isn't possible with Capital Bikeshare. They also inferred that bicyclists were taking unapproved shortcuts through the city center, but our data shows that even in downtown DC, with few shortcuts, shared bikes are still highly efficient.

I would have liked to study every single pair of Capital Bikeshare stations, but was limited by the tedious task of getting trip times from Google Transit. Since I was primarily interested in testing the effectiveness of bicycling around the city's downtown core, where it has the best potential to overcome traffic, that was where I focused.

It would not be surprising if bicycling were equally effective in other dense neighborhoods such as Dupont, Logan, Shaw, Adams Morgan, or Capitol Hill, but I have not tested this. Some trips, like Anacostia to Arlington, may not be very efficient by bicycling because routes are lacking, though bikes often perform well in commuter competitions like last year's in Reston.

If you're interested in another set of trips or cluster of stations, we could set up a collaborative spreadsheet with instructions for collecting the numbers needed. Let me know in comments below, or send me an email. And if you're interested in working with Capital Bikeshare data or software, please join us at the new developer forum.

Matt Caywood is a DC resident working in Tysons Corner. He is a neuroscience and computer science researcher, and a volunteer advisor and collaborator to Arlington’s Mobility Lab Transit Tech Initiative.  

Comments

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This is great

by EmilyC on Mar 15, 2012 2:33 pm • linkreport

Great analysis! Thanks for putting in the time to do this.

I would add to your discussion that personal bikes do also take a few minutes on each end for locking/unlocking, finding parking, coming out of a garage if you park in one at work, handling panniers, etc., so I'm not sure I'd agree that it is slower than CaBi (e.g. CaBi is so carefree in terms of locking/unlocking). This is probably nitpicking and I think you did a great job with the analysis.

by Sam on Mar 15, 2012 2:37 pm • linkreport

This is unsurprising to me. For me, CaBi is almost always the best option for trips under 5 miles that don't have a direct (ie. no transfer) transit alternative available, even including those along corridors with very frequent bus service.

by andrew on Mar 15, 2012 3:10 pm • linkreport

The title should be amended as follows:

"Bicycling is the fastest way to travel in downtown DC...when cyclists don't bother with stop lights."

A couple times a week I drive down 14th St from Harvard St to K Street at 7:15am. Overall traffic is very light, only a few cars qued at stop lights etc.

Without fail, on every single trip down 14th I see a handful of cyclists, most of them on cabi bikes not stop for a single redlight from Florida Ave to Thomas Cir. Literally not one. The near accidents I've seen from a car having to cede the green to a red busting bike number in the dozens a year. I've seen 3 or 4 near accidents at Thomas Circle alone the past year as the cyclist barrels through the stop light, enters the circle, crossing lanes without abandon forcing the cars who have the ROW to slam on their brakes to avoid them.

A car can usually keep overall pace with the cyclist down 14th because you can drive the 25 mph speed limit, which cyclists, especially cabi'ers can't usually maintain on the flat and so despite the fact that they didn't stop at any lights, you arrive simultaneously, but articles like this are particularly amusing in light that cyclists who stop at a stop light are a rarity rather than the norm.

The author should do a real experiment where a car and bike leave from the same place, take the same route where the cyclist actually bothers stopping at a stop light and where the driver isn't allowed to exceed the speed limit and see if biking is actually faster than driving, once during rush, and once another time.

by cabi on Mar 15, 2012 3:27 pm • linkreport

I love these preaching-to-the-choir posts. Hey, if speed and cost are your only criteria and the trip is around a mile or two, knock yourself out. If you care more about safety, comfort, being able to carry more than a backpack's worth of stuff, or showing up not smelling like a locker room, look elsewhere.

by movement on Mar 15, 2012 3:57 pm • linkreport

@cabi, I would also like to see incorporated into the study how much slower cars are when they actually follow the speed limit. It should also stipulate that the cars don't gain extra time by cutting off bikes, pedestrians or other cars, speeding up at yellow lights or blow through reds, and actually stopping for emergency vehicles. Of course, a driver who actually did those things would be the real rarity in this city.

by Joe on Mar 15, 2012 3:57 pm • linkreport

@cabi: I agree! I also didn't really bother to read the post, so I have no idea that the author incorporated some amount of time to park for the drivers. Since I can't really think for myself, I have no idea if that's reasonable. But I'm hoping you'll let me know.

by Gray on Mar 15, 2012 4:01 pm • linkreport

Yeah, you need a huge asterisk on the title of this post. A CaBi trip from Mass and Q NW to 5th and F NW is a lot slower than the trip on Metro from Dupont to Judiciary, even including vertical transportation.

by MDE on Mar 15, 2012 4:02 pm • linkreport

@MDE, I assume you have some data to back that up? I would assume it would be pretty close actually, given the amount of time it takes getting into and out of the Metro, waiting for a train to show up, hoping against hope there are no system delays, etc. My money's on a bike in that head-to-head.

by Joe on Mar 15, 2012 4:06 pm • linkreport

You've stacked the deck here. This study is valid for short trips of 1-2 miles in the most congested part of town and on pancake-flat terrain. Of course a car can't compete with a bike when you have to add 5 minutes for parking to the end of a very short trip -- but how many car trips are that short? How would a CaBi bike fare when chugging uphill to Columbia Heights or Adams Morgan? Or over a longer, more typical commute that doesn't start and end downtown?

by jimble on Mar 15, 2012 4:11 pm • linkreport

On Tuesday I rode my bike from Lincoln Park to Big Bear to purchase a craigslist bike. I made it in about 20ish minutes at the height of rush hour (without running stoplights). I then rode the new bike back to my house. Later that night, I was feeling lazy, so I drove to pick up my old bike...took me about 20ish minutes in the car, well after rush hour had ended. Had I driven up to Bloomingdale for the first trip, I guarantee it would've taken a half hour...so yes, bikes are just as fast, if not faster...but not necessarily the "easiest" choice, I suppose.

by MM on Mar 15, 2012 4:13 pm • linkreport

@movement -- this post is about data from Capital Bikeshare bikes, which are extremely comfortable, have built-in lights, front storage racks, and are basically impossible to work up a sweat on. You must be thinking of some other kind of high-performance bicycle that would leave cars in the dust...

@MDE -- if you're traveling at peak time across downtown on one line from Metro station to Metro station, and you hit a train with no waiting time, you will be faster than a bike. But, waiting and transfers kill your travel time, as does the walk to the station (there are a lot more bikeshare stations than Metro stations).

by Matt Caywood on Mar 15, 2012 4:17 pm • linkreport

You might be able to use this website to find more data on bicycle rides (not just CaBi): http://app.strava.com/rides/search

by Ryan on Mar 15, 2012 4:23 pm • linkreport

jimble -- that's the whole point. The point of bike mode share isn't to compete with a car for every trip, it's to compete where a bike (or transit) trip is comparable or faster. (E.g., a car is faster from my house to Rockville than a bike trip. So I take the Metro, or ... drive, except in unusual circumstances when the total time to get there isn't that important.)

Since 51% of all household trips are 3 miles or less (an add'l 13% are 3-5 miles), in cores of center cities especially, a bike-based trip becomes very competitive and and easy choice provided it's reasonable safe to ride and their are quality end-of-trip facilities (parking, showers if necessary, etc.).

@cabi -- I believe in the Idaho Stop. By definition an Idaho Stop isn't legal if there is oncoming traffic. So yes, I can beat a Metrobus, sometimes even a MetroExpress bus, from around Rhode Island to Petworth (that's uphill), given that they stop to pick up and let off riders and I try to minimize my stops. Downtown it's pretty easy.

And I agree with others who question MDE's assertion about a trip from Dupont Circle to Judiciary Square--bike vs. subway--being faster by subway. ESPECIALLY, when the bike can go directly to the endpoint destination while walking is still required to do this for transit trips.

But proponents of Idaho Stops do not support bicyclists not stopping or yielding to oncoming traffic. So I can't cotton your examples either. E.g., the poor schulb who got hit by the truck, well, it's hard to find much sympathy, even though I feel for his loss.

by Richard Layman on Mar 15, 2012 4:24 pm • linkreport

Google transit gives 16 minutes for bike and 13 minutes for Metrorail including walk time.

by MDE on Mar 15, 2012 4:25 pm • linkreport

@jimble -- I was testing this hypothesis in an area of the city where Bikeshare has high potential to reduce congestion. (Also, the Google Maps trip times assume zero traffic, so if anything I'm being more than fair to cars).

Do you have an hour to help me get the Google Maps results to test another area? What would you suggest? (If we test uphill trips to Columbia Heights, it's only fair to test downhill trips also!)

by Matt Caywood on Mar 15, 2012 4:27 pm • linkreport

The author caveats that trips from CaBi stations constitute an extra walk, which is most certainly true. but I imagine this discrepancy is balanced by the fact that rarely does a driver in Downtown park immediately in front of their destination. I imagine the walk time is similar from a random parking spot as would be from a random CaBi station (which are pretty dense downtown).

Love the analysis in this post.

by Dave Murphy on Mar 15, 2012 4:31 pm • linkreport

@Matt: I'd gladly pull some Google data together tonight if someone else doesn't beat me to it. I'm not questioning the validity of your work, but its real-world relevance -- I don't think many private automobile trips start and end within a 1-mile radius of Metro Center. I'd be curious to look at trips between downtown and residential neighborhoods like Petworth, Columbia Heights, Capitol Hill, and Glover Park.

by jimble on Mar 15, 2012 4:35 pm • linkreport

Probably the best way to title this is bikeshare vs. Private car downtown. As others have said, bit

by Charlie on Mar 15, 2012 4:55 pm • linkreport

Sorry, cut myself off

Better comparison is taxi vs bikeshare

by Charlie on Mar 15, 2012 4:56 pm • linkreport

how many car trips are that short?

Within DC, plenty. If you're unfamiliar with the modes of urban driving, you might think that every trip involves a 10 mile drive on the highway, but in cities, trips are much shorter.

by JustMe on Mar 15, 2012 5:16 pm • linkreport

As you point out, bikeshare bikes are comfortable and fairly slow. I wonder if it would be possible to determine the typical difference in speed between bikeshare bikes and higher-performance bikes, and adjust the average bikeshare trip times accordingly to get a better sense of typical speeds for people riding their own bikes?

by Andrew Pendleton on Mar 15, 2012 5:16 pm • linkreport

Higher performance bikes are not a good comparison--they're used differently. Longer distance bike commuters or couriers use them, and often will also wear the dreaded Lycra because it's a bigger deal for a longer trip. They're also in better shape with better skills.

So bottom line, they will go much faster, but for reasons in part not dependent on the quality of the bike.

by Crickey7 on Mar 15, 2012 5:40 pm • linkreport

@Charlie -- We can compare to both taxis and private cars. The second figure shows the effect of 5 minutes of parking delay, but that same 5 minutes could also be the time you spend catching a cab.

Based on my own experience, approximately:

* 0 delay "Direct car trip" is like having a chauffeur, or a friend picking you up.
* 3-5 minute delay is like a cab (need to flag cab, pay for cab at end of ride)
* 5-10 minute delay is like a private car with parking

by Matt Caywood on Mar 15, 2012 6:08 pm • linkreport

@jimble -- I appreciate your willingness to help!

I'm not sure if I have time to finish this tonight, but I will generate a google spreadsheet for station pairs between some of the following: columbia heights/downtown, capitol hill/downtown, and glover park/downtown. and possibly petworth/downtown.

I will post a link here as soon as I have it, or you could email me using my last name at google's email service.

by Matt Caywood on Mar 15, 2012 6:17 pm • linkreport

@MattCaywood; ok. I was looking at before on my phone, and the graphics were a bit wierd. Sorry.

I wonder if there is a way to break it out by time of day. cleaerly during certain hours, bikeshare will win.

You also have to account for dock-blocking.

Ancetodally, I actually find it easier to walk for most trips downtown under a mile. There is a bikeshare sweetspot, but it is bit longer out.

Meauring congestion reduction isn't the goal. Increasing mobility is the goal.

by charlie on Mar 15, 2012 8:28 pm • linkreport

Frequently, I'll take CaBi home after dinner, because I like night biking, and the Misses will take a taxi (from Downtown or U street to Capitol Hill). I routinely beat her without running stop lights or stop signs. But I will admit to exceeding the speed limit as much as possible.

by David C on Mar 15, 2012 11:53 pm • linkreport

If you consider a non docked bike, eg YOURS, then the time goes up for unlocking and locking

by TGEoA on Mar 16, 2012 12:04 am • linkreport

@TGEoA: it does...but no more than 2 minutes in my experience, unless I'm talking with someone in the process.

by Froggie on Mar 16, 2012 12:37 am • linkreport

Doubt this would always be the case why not have any trips from one end of downtown to the other Union Station to Dupont Circle/Foggy Bottom.

Did the cars and bikes use the same streets or separate ones? To get real sense of how accurate this is, both would have to use the exactly same route at the same time so that it can be an equal test.

How many trips required the use of side streets, one ways streets, streets that are only one block like Hopkins St or dead ends. 19th & Constituion to 19th & L is rather easy and sense it requires traveling on only one street so of-course the bike would win. But if you tried from somewhere like (throwing out streets) Sunderland Place, Jefferson Place, Newport Place or Ridge Street it would be vastly different due to not having a straight shot there.

Why not try places that you could travel via Bike, Car, Walking, MetroBus/Circulator and Metrorail then compare all.

by kk on Mar 16, 2012 12:48 am • linkreport

Great story.

One day I made all of the lights between L'enfant Plaza and the Navy Yard Metro station. I felt like I was flying on that little red bike. When I logged into CaBi I found out that my trip took 7min 18sec! Don't know if it is a record, heck I probably could have done it faster on my own bike, but i've waited for a train at L'enfant for longer than 7:18.

by Mike Essig on Mar 16, 2012 5:44 am • linkreport

My bike commute from just west of Ballston to SW Waterfront will beat Metro and a car every time. It's not just a downtown thing.

by crin on Mar 16, 2012 6:57 am • linkreport

Is the writer serious or is some joke from The Onion?

As long as cyclists are able to run red lights, weave between vehicles, hog a lane while holding up everyone else, jump onto the sidewalk - and still have their own dedicated lane, cyclists will win every time. Tell us something we don't already know.

Try pacing a bike an a car in a "fair race" where everyone has to play by the rules. It would be interesting to see who "gets there first" when there's a level playing field.

by ceefer66 on Mar 16, 2012 8:42 am • linkreport

kk, why would they have to follow the same exact route? My point in a trip is to get to B, not to get to B via a certain route. That's like saying that you can't compare air travel to rail travel because they travel different routes.

In a car it often makes sense to go out of one's way if it lets you go 45mph. On a bike it usually doesn't.

by David C on Mar 16, 2012 8:55 am • linkreport

Tell us something we don't already know.

Phillip II was simultaneously king of England, Spain, Portugal, Naples, and Sicily.

Try pacing a bike an a car in a "fair race" where everyone has to play by the rules. It would be interesting to see who "gets there first" when there's a level playing field.

This happens all the time. The news media does it. Bikes almost always win.

by David C on Mar 16, 2012 9:01 am • linkreport

I was wondering how long it would take for the first "it's only because bikes BREAK ALL THE RULES and run red lights!!!!" comment.

The real reasons bikes are faster for these short trips:
1. Parking time - takes 2 minutes to park your bike, longer to find a parking spot and park your car.
2. Average speeds: average speeds on bikes/cars are similar for these trips because cars race to the next light and then wait, while bikes are going slower but they catch more lights.
3. Alternate routes: in a car, you are confined to major streets; using smaller side streets won't really help you get anywhere faster. If you encounter a car coming the other direction on a smaller street you have to slow way down to pass each other. On my bike, I can filter up while traffic is stopped at a light and then turn right - this is both safe and legal. I can go down smaller side streets because if I encounter a car coming the other direction, we can pass by each other easily.

Those are the major reasons bikes are faster in these situations. Using the Idaho stop technique (which is actually not "running lights" and is perfectly safe) can save you some time but it doesn't save that much, since you can really only pass through a red towards the end of the red cycle. It's functionally equivalent to jaywalking, which zillions of people do safely every day.

by MLD on Mar 16, 2012 9:02 am • linkreport

@ceefer

lets try a fair race of a car vs a metro train. The car has to stop everywhere the metro stops, for passengers to get on and off. Lets do this, say, Vienna to Farragut West. Lets see who wins.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 16, 2012 9:06 am • linkreport

It's amazing how much resentment there is among car drivers toward bicyclists. I'm both a driver and a cyclist, these days mostly car, because I bought a new one at the end of last summer.

There's a huge difference between being pissed off at cyclists who egregiously break the law, and just being pissed off because times have changed and you have to share the road.

And yes, virginia, there are times that a bike will beat a car. Short trips downtown or from close in residential to and from downtown are at the top of that list.

It would be ridiculous and time consuming for me to drive my car from K st to my house on T. I don't need to debate the consistent time savings from biking, because I already know which mode I choose when I'm late in the morning. Duh.

by CJ on Mar 16, 2012 9:20 am • linkreport

@ MLD

I also am amazed that none of these drivers who are so worried about the lawlessness of bikes, are willing to blame the slowness of cars on the lawlessness of their fellow drivers. How many minutes do they lose because some schmuck has blocked the box in his beemer? or blocked a lane while running in to CVS? Or making a U turn? or turning left illegally? The reason cars are slow downtown is mostly the Darwinian behavior of drivers, not cyclists.

by CJ on Mar 16, 2012 9:25 am • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity:
Is that a joke?

@MattCaywood
Nice article!

by David F-H on Mar 16, 2012 9:27 am • linkreport

Try pacing a bike an a car in a "fair race" where everyone has to play by the rules. It would be interesting to see who "gets there first" when there's a level playing field.

My understanding is that the below race was "level playing field":

http://fabb-bikes.blogspot.com/2011/05/fabb-chairman-arrives-first-in.html

FABB chairman arrives first in Bike/Car/Bus Challenge in Reston

It turns out that the fastest way to get to the Reston Town Center from the neighborhood near South Lakes High School, about 3 miles away, is to ride a bicycle. Bruce Wright of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB) made the trip in just over 13 minutes.

Another bicyclist who took the same route but rode at an easier pace, Kerie Hitt, also of FABB, arrived next 3 and a half minutes later. Delegate Ken Plum's trip in his hybrid car took him 19 minutes. Taking the long route with a ride through Hunter's Woods Village Center on the RIBS 2 bus on her way to the Town Center was Reston Association President and School Board candidate Kathleen Driscoll McKee. She had a leisurely trip of 50 minutes.

by Falls Church on Mar 16, 2012 9:30 am • linkreport

@david F-H

Was ceefers post a joke? Mine is logically parallel to his. If you need to have bikes imitate the limitations of cars in order to show bikes can be faster going from A to B in downtown DC, then by the same token you need to have cars imitate the limitations of metrorail to show that cars are truely faster going from Vienna to Farragut West.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 16, 2012 9:33 am • linkreport

Even for longer distances, it's surprising how close bike/metro/car is during peak times. Here are times from the West Falls Church metro area to the White House area in morning rush:

1) Drive 1 mile to metro, park, take metro (no transfer). 40 min

2) Drive all the way on 66 HOV. 40 min (assuming you can park under your building).

3) Bike W&OD to Custis to downtown. 55 min (from hop on bike to arrive at bike rack).

by Falls Church on Mar 16, 2012 9:41 am • linkreport

Alright, Walker, whatever. Your precious like is faster in city traffic. OK?

Happy now?

I still think the car would win if it could run red lights, use the sidewalk, and have its own deicated lane restricted to its exclusive use. But I'm not surprised to see you needing to go to extremes to make your point.

In any event, at least the driver will like a freshly-washed human when he/she reaches their destination instead of like a spent-out racehorse.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to smell like a spent-out racehorse.

by ceefer66 on Mar 16, 2012 10:58 am • linkreport

I meant to say "bike".

by ceefer66 on Mar 16, 2012 10:59 am • linkreport

I'm pretty sure my motorcycle is faster. I can fit everywhere a bicycle can legally, and I'm faster. That is unless you're running red lights on the bicycle.

by Brookland Rez on Mar 16, 2012 11:11 am • linkreport

@ceefer

Er, there ARE dedicated lanes for cars in downtown DC - the SE - SW freeway.

And yes, biking on sidewalks is legal in DC, but not mostly in downtown I think. Here in the burbs where the sidewalks are often empty banning biking on sidewalks would be silly. It would also make it hard for little kids to learn to bike.

And yes, facilities for showering make bike commuting more feasible. Where I work theres a fitness center, whose showers cyclists are allowed to use

(and btw, I do not bike commute - I live in NoVa, and the total time is too far and the routes where I live are not great - but I don't care for illogical statements)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 16, 2012 11:13 am • linkreport

"You smell" is a point I did not expect to be raised in a discussion of transportation modes.

by worthing on Mar 16, 2012 11:20 am • linkreport

I don't want to smell like a spent-out racehorse.

Too late.

Kidding! I'm kidding.

by David C on Mar 16, 2012 11:45 am • linkreport

Don't race-horses, and all horses, smell with their nose?

by Tina on Mar 16, 2012 12:44 pm • linkreport

This study was for the 50 pound tank-of-a-bike Capital Bikeshare bicycles. If you're even in moderately good condition and have bike that weights 20-30 pounds with a couple of gears, bicycling should be faster than driving for most trips-- yes, even stopping for red lights.

I rode from Glover Park to L'Enfant the other morning. Door-to-door it takes 25 minutes via bike and 45-55 minutes via transit. Yes, that's downhill but going home it takes 35 minutes-- still ten to fifteen minutes less than metro and bus.

by Ben on Mar 16, 2012 2:03 pm • linkreport

As most people know, I actually do follow all traffic laws. For me, any ride inside the Beltway during the rush hour, regardless of distance, is faster on bike. Shower time does add to that, but in a morning commute that's no net increase because I am just showering at a different time, not adding a shower.

I find the E-W traffic within the old DC downtown (i.e., south of the rise in elevation) yields the greatest advantage to cycling.

by Crickey7 on Mar 16, 2012 2:22 pm • linkreport

There's the aggravation factor, which isn't quantifiable. While Metro has its issues, I'd pick 40 minutes by Metro over 20 minutes by car any day. It takes me 30 to 40 minutes to get from northern Capitol Hill to Dupont Circle. (walk 9 blocks, wait for Metro, ride Metro, walk 2 blocks). That 20 minute drive is sans parking issues. Add those in, it's 30.

Can't tell you about biking because Cabi only just came to my neighborhood a couple of weeks ago. I'm happy to test it.

by lou on Mar 16, 2012 2:45 pm • linkreport

"For me, any ride inside the Beltway during the rush hour, regardless of distance, is faster on bike."

I'm not sure if this is a joke, proof that you have a very limited view of what is outside your daily life, or you aren't able to operate a motored vehicle.

by selxic on Mar 16, 2012 2:56 pm • linkreport

"For me, any ride inside the Beltway during the rush hour, regardless of distance, is faster on bike."

Well, you may be a really fast cyclist, but there are plenty of trips where this would certainly not be the case for most people. When I lived near Mt. Vernon Square my 9-mile commute to Old Town was about 25 minutes by car, 40+ minutes by bike, and 50+ minutes by Metro and walking. I'm admittedly not in the shape I was once in, but I find it hard to believe that most commuters could do that ride in under 25 minutes. For my current commute add another 2 miles up to Columbia Heights -- 35 minutes by car, over an hour by transit. Haven't biked it yet but I plan to try. I'd love to drive less because it's wasteful and aggravating, but the time savings are really substantial.

by jimble on Mar 16, 2012 3:44 pm • linkreport

I ride from Glover Park to 7th and Pennsylvania as often as I can on a cabi bike. It takes 23 to 25 minutes, and yes, I am stopping for lights. I do wear my work clothes. I am not riding fast or hard, so I am not gross upon arrival.

At the end of the day, I ride to Dupont (20 min b/c I want to stay in bike lanes and it's slow going back) and catch a bus the rest of the way.

It's not my only mode of transport--I rely heavily on the buses for commuting and I drive a car on weekends. But on a nice sunny morning, you will arrive at work in a better mood if you ride your bike there!

by HEP on Mar 16, 2012 4:02 pm • linkreport

To study how fast bicycling is for more traditional "commuter trips" within the city, I've put together a table of station pairs between columbia heights/downtown, capitol hill/downtown, and glover park/downtown.

jimble has volunteered to help fill it with data from the Google Maps trip planner, but everyone else is welcome to help too. Just contact me using my last name at google's email service.

by Matt Caywood on Mar 17, 2012 3:16 pm • linkreport

I commute on bike approx 2.5 miles from Columbia Heights to Foggy, Bottom most days of the week. It takes both more than 20 min to get back home up-hill with bikeshare, whereas it would take 40 min on metro. I save money, time and I get my physical activity in. I'm grateful DC has so many lanes and as long as I act respectful to car drivers, I tend to get the same response from them. I would like to continue riding my bike so I'm not going to pull any stupid moves while riding in the city. If bicycling could be more communal, it would be easier to reach out to get cyclists to not treat their commute as a race, then maybe they won't smell as bad taking their time either

by Bike4Health on Mar 25, 2012 9:33 pm • linkreport

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