Thursday 19 November 2009

What stuffs up your commute?

I currently commute by bike, but over the last few years, I have commuted by train, bus and car at various times. Of the four methods, the bike is most consistent. My commute almost always falls into the 40-45 minute time frame. The only thing that blows it out significantly is flat tyres, and even then, a commute with a flat is rarely more than 50 minutes door to door.

Trains and buses by comparison were all over the place. The length of commute varied from 40 minutes up to two hours. When I ride, I can tell you that I will arrive at work in 45 minutes, +/- 5 minutes. If I go by bus, it is 40 minutes + any number you care to mention.

The following graph is my estimation of commuting times by car. Most days, it would take 45-47 minutes to go door to door. The best time was achieved coming home at 3am one morning - 38 minutes. The worst was 2 hours, and there were a few 90 minute shockers as well.

However, the bulk fell into the time frame of 46 minutes +/- 4 minutes. It was amazing how consistent my commute times were. The main factors which affected how long it took were:

  1. Weather (rain, storms)
  2. Traffic light phasing (did I get lucky and get every light?)
  3. The number of other cars on the road
The really horrible times - those over an hour - were all caused by car crashes that took ages to clear.

The biggest factor by far in how long it took me to drive from A to B was the number of other cars on the road. I think we all know that. Sure, traffic slow down during a downpour, but it is the density of traffic that is the killer when it comes to commute times.

So I can comfortably say that on an average day, if it took me 4 minutes longer than average to drive to work, that delay was mostly caused by other cars. Think of that number - 4 minutes.

Assume you drive to work for 48 weeks of the year. Being delayed by 4 minutes on 25% of your commutes would add up to a total delay for the year of 480 minutes, or 8 hours.

Now, how many times was I delayed on my commutes by a cyclist?

The answer - nil.

How many times are the angry letter writers at the Telegraph delayed per year? Once? Twice? How long does each delay last? 5 seconds? 10 seconds?

The thing that gets me is that if these angry idiots at the Telegraph were honest with themselves, they would note that they are delayed every single day by other cars - not bicycles. In this example of mine, a 10 second delay by a bike once a year vs 8 hours of delay by cars per year equates to 0.035% of your annual delay total.

And that is worth getting upset over? These people need to get a life.

1 comment:

Mike B said...

Well - you've touched on a good point.

On those weekly occasions that I have to work near the Melbourne CBD, biking to work takes me five minutes longer than driving.

And I bike *slow* - 35 minutes for 12 km.