Average Speeds of Cars and Bikes

One of the biggest motivations for transport choice is simply – which is fastest? When the train came along, you could suddenly travel from London to Bristol in four hours – rather than a couple of days travel by stage coach. No matter how much people complained about trains (and they did even in the glory days of GWR) if you can save that kind of time, it was a no-brainer. When the motor car came along, train travel slowly slipped away. Why waste time walking to station and waiting for a train. The car was simply quicker. The car also caused bicycle use to fall in most of western Europe.


The resurgence in bicycle use in some major European cities, is partly related to the fact that the speed difference between cars and bikes has narrowed as congestion has increased. With cities so congested with motor cars, people slowly realise that it might actually be quicker to go back to the bicycle.

In Oxford, a one-way system means that bicycles are often quicker than driving. Even if you cycle pretty slowly, it is still quicker by bike to pretty much any destination. As well as being quick, you can save money and save time looking for parking.

A study by Citreon suggested that the average speed of driving in London is just 7mph – that is with all the traffic lights. (link Bike Hub)

To put it into perspective, the average traffic speed is pretty much the same as 100 years ago with the horsedrawn carriage. [link]

For a one hour commute, in Cardiff, the average standstill time for a motorist is a 30 minutes, half of the one-hour commute time.
The Edinburgh transport minister warned that by 2026, traffic will be almost at a standstill – A 20 minute car journey could take an hour by 2026 unless something was done. BBC link

fast lane fat lane

Interesting poster. Perhaps promoting the speed of cycling, would be a good way to encourage more people to cycle.


It is true too! There’s nothing better than cycling along a cycle path past stationary traffic!


Not sure the image of cyclists riding over car bonnets is entirely helpful for motorist / cyclist harmony.


3 Responses to Average Speeds of Cars and Bikes

  1. steve October 6, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    Traffic stands still because the council has planned it that way, as part of an ongoing war against the car. Oxford is a gem in the crown of this ‘lenient despotism’, along with Cambridge and Edinburgh. People in cars are there because they have things to do – cyclists mostly because it’s fun and gives the cool smug feeling alluded to in the middle picture.

    As pavements have widened and bus/cycle lanes introduced, motorised traffic has been intentionally squeezed out, denying the reality that no-one, but no-one uses a bus if there is ANY other way of getting to a destination.

    Cycles are fine, I use one myself. Exclusively, I can’t afford a car. Wait till you have no option but to get on the bloody thing in the cold, wet and dark of a November morning. The cars may be stationary, but they are warm and have the radio to keep them company!

  2. botogol August 24, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    the second poster is a bit pointless — while a stage of the tdf can indeed be routinely completed in 40km/h you certainly can’t average that speed commuting in slow traffic!

    (I cross London from west to east and my best result is 27km in an hour dead)

  3. Bicycle Tyro August 23, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    I LOVE THESE!!!!

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