French researchers just released what they say is the "first robust" study of urban bike riding. It might seem obvious to urban dwellers, but they found that bikers rode just as fast as cars during rush hour. The researchers conducted their research in Lyon, France, home of a massive bike-sharing program. They analyzed 11.6 million trips taken during two years.
Eric Jaffe at the Infrastructurist blog explains the numbers:
On early weekday mornings, before rush hour, Lyon bicyclers reached an average speed of 14.5 kilometers per hour (roughly 9 miles per hour) — though “experienced or hurried” riders got up to 20 k.p.h. (12 m.p.h.), the authors report. During morning rush hours the average bicyclist’s speed dropped to 13.5 k.p.h. (8.4 m.p.h.). Still, that figure compares very favorably with the average car’s speed in a downtown European city, which ranges from 10 to 15 k.ph. (6.2 to 9.3 m.p.h.).
If you add the time it takes to find parking, the authors of the study note, bicycles easily make for a speedier commute.