Saturday, April 08, 2006

Cycle mph Average Speed In London

What is the average speed of a bicycle in London? And what is the average speed of a car in London?

"The average speed in London is 9mph - slower than in the horse and cart era"
Source: BBC News


Further surveys of car average speeds correlate the facts that after waiting at traffic lights, queuing at junctions, and traffic jam delays are taken in to account, despite the expense & advanced technology of modern cars, the average speed in real terms is very, very low.

Racers Potential

Road racing cyclists intent on setting fastest race times as shown here, can achieve average speeds of 30 mph sustained over distances of 25 and 50 miles. Considering that is the average speed overall, including any gradients and wind factors, for pure human power, 30 mph is seriously impressive!

The road racing is just an example, to demonstrate the kind of average speeds cycles can achieve. But it's not realistically comparable with urban commuting.

My Average Speed

On a daily cycling commute to & from work in London, my priorities rank safety above speed or journey time. Yet with little exertion, not trying too hard, I still rate better than the 9 mph car average. Here are my typical statistics:

  • My average traveling speed (as in; the speed I often cycle at on flat tarmac with no positive or negative wind assistance) is: 20 mph
  • My average speed (as in; total time spent riding, divided by distance covered - includes stopping for traffic lights etc, slowing down & accelerating, and cautiously filtering passed queues of traffic jams) is: 13 mph

Distance = Speed x Time

In an urban environment, where pedestrians, parked cars, junctions, and all traffic are compressively close together, cycling is unsuspectingly fast. However, this is both good and bad.

Yes the mechanical advantage of a bicycle allows a human to move say 8 times faster than that same human just walking.


  • at 10 mph, I cover 4 meters every second
  • at 20 mph, I cover 9 meters every second!
  • at 30 mph, I cover 13 meters every second!!!

I have to remind myself sometimes of how many meters I travel for each tick, tock that passes. Because, if some lame-brain in this distance should swing a car-door open, or a walk out in to the road, I literally would have 1 second until collision impact.

Which is why you'll find me riding well away from the door zone of parked cars, and avoiding the kerb edge of the road where pedestrians like to launch from.

Technorati Tags: Cycling /London /

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Anonymous said...

For Comparison in Sydney Australia my figures are:
- Flats (no computer, no idea)
- Commuter avg speed (distance/total time): 20km/hr (12.5mph) to 22km/hr (13.8mph).
- Flatter, low traffic with wind 26km/hr (16.3mph)

Figures for mtb 1.75" tires. My commuter speed on a flat bar roadie, 28mm tires, isn't much different. Normal pedals, no straps or clipless stuff.

I'm a non heroic rider. 44yo been riding 3years, 75 to 100km/wk.

Jammy said...

20 mph in London - incredible.
Even 13 mph in London is pretty impressive in humble opinion.
What is you commute distance? And equally importantly the route taken - start and end points.

Unknown said...

Hi there,

I get about 15mph in Manchester commuting from Didsbury to the university. It's really flat in Manchester (but wet!) and avoiding the main routes i can stay away from traffic.

As an example the bus would take me 30-40minutes, a car travelling a similar route [cars can't use cycleways and cut through :)] would take 15-20 mins and i take 12-14 minutes!

Go bike!

Anonymous said...

Average between 14 and 16 mph - 11 to 11.6 mile route, starting in Wimbeldon and ending in The city (London Wall)

pb is 11.6 miles, 43 minutes, 16.2mph average.

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