Finally found what I hope is the original source of this image – Lisbon Cycle Chic* I’m going

You are not stuck in traffic.  You are traffic

Finally found what I hope is the original source of this image – Lisbon Cycle Chic*

I’m going to neatly use this image to illustrate a point made by ExcitableBoy on a recent CityCyclingEdinburgh thread, which I hadn’t really thought about before.  Namely:

Cyclists do not delay motor vehicles.  Motor vehicles delay cyclists.

Neat, eh?  Let me expand a bit.  In my mind, a delay has occurred if you get to your destination later than you would have otherwise done.  So, lets take a road-hogging, slow, always-in-the-way cyclist called Bob, and (just to keep any public key fanatics happy) a speedy Audi driver called Alice.  Who’s on the way to a meeting. 

Alice comes up behind Bob on a blind right hand bend.  Because Alice is a better than average driver, she decides against chancing it and hooning round the bend on the opposite side of the road and instead sits behind Bob all the way round the bend.  Call it 5mph (Bob’s having a bit of a lazy day, truth be told.  He might be whistling).  15 seconds (30ish metres) later the road straightens out, Alice checks the coast is clear, moves smoothly out, passes Bob and heads off at speed.  Now, has Bob delayed Alice, maybe putting her all-important meeting at risk?  Only if Alice is able to maintain the maximum safe road speed all the way to her destination, without any other events causing her to slow down for more than 15 seconds**.  Hits a traffic light?  Catches up with a car in front?  Has to wait to turn right into the company car park?  The cyclist delay is wiped out.  Bob has had no effect on the time taken for Alice to get to her meeting.

Switch it around.  Cyclists rarely catch things powered by burning oil in freely flowing traffic, after all, all we have is Weetabix and the odd banana.  We also generally travel at our maximum possible speed (rather than an artificially limited top speed limit), so have much less capacity for making up time lost by delays.  Almost every second lost due to the number of vehicles on the road is added on to our total journey time.

So.  Drivers.  Next time you’re part of a traffic jam and see a cyclist slowly filter past, or stuck behind you sucking in your exhaust fumes, be embarrassed in the knowledge that your choice to pick a 2 tonne metal box to get to the shops is making that cyclist late for their tea.  And when you politely wait for chance to safely pass another cyclist, be safe in the knowledge that you’ll still get to that meeting at the same time.

* As an aside, whilst trawling their site to confirm this I also came across a surreal video of naked women riding multicoloured fixies.  From this I draw the conclusion that it’s warmer in Lisbon than Glasgow.  I digress

** OK, well actually this is only really accurate if you also factor in the speed difference.  Assume Alice was doing 30mph and lets assume this is a really upmarket Audi with instant acceleration.  Lets also switch to metric (the cyclist’s favourite ego-flattering trick).  In 15 seconds she should have gone 166m at 40kph, but instead only went 33m (15 secs at 8kph).  She’d lose the same 133m progress with a 12 second stop at traffic lights.

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