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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Faster by Tube or Bike?

There have been a number of experiments where people effectively "race against the London Underground".
Running, by taxi and even walking have all been pitted against the Tube. The latest is an experiment by London cycling blogger, Andreas to see whether you can make several journeys in central London quicker by bike.

I don't think it will surprise many of you to know that cycling won, but what surprised both me and Andreas was by how much!


He said "I made the test as fair as possible by starting and ending the journey standing on the same spot. For tube route planning and estimating journey times I used TfL’s journey planner. Above ground I used Bike Route Toaster to plot a suitable route. I then exported the data to my iPhone which is mounted to my bike using the Bicio bike mount.

According to TfL’s planner the journeys should take:

Swiss Cottage to Covent Garden 21 minutes (Tube) 23 minutes (Bike)
Covent Garden to London Bridge 19 minutes (Tube) Not available (Bike)
London Bridge to Mornington Crescent 18 minutes (Tube) 23 minutes (Bike)


I won't go into too many details of the Tube journey because it will be about as thrilling as walking down a staircase. Which incidentally made up a large part of it."

His bike journey had some technical hitches with his iPhone app, so he ended up going the wrong way to Covent Garden.

The walking bits on the Tube were done at a "brisk pace" and his cycling was "fast but not erratic", wearing normal clothes & not cycling gear.

Here's the results

Swiss Cottage to Covent Garden 28 minutes (Tube) 19 minutes (Bike)
Covent Garden to London Bridge 22 minutes (Tube) 13 minutes (Bike)
London Bridge to Mornington Crescent 30 minutes (Tube) 22 minutes (Bike)

"The bike was on average 33% faster. Someone could therefore save 1/3 off their travel times or in the case of these journeys nearly 30 minutes!

The second big surprise was how inaccurate the TfL journey time predictor is. My guess is it doesn't calculate the time required to get down to the Tube and back out again.
"

You can read more about Andreas' journeys here.

Andreas says he's going to try it with some other routes and see what the results are. He'd also like to know if you've noticed anything about journeys you make by bike or on foot & how they compare with making them by Tube. I currently don't own a bike but would be worried about the fumes travelling round central London & also getting knocked off.

With Boris Johnson's craze for bikes & the upcoming bike hire scheme, it would be useful to see more experiments like this. Maybe even a Tube map or an app showing journey where it is faster to cycle!


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