Urban Bike Trends Revealed


Lyon, France introduced its shared bicycle system in 2005.  Dubbed Velo’v, the system features onboard computers that have been collecting data throughout the project’s life.  This data, analyzed by Pablo Jensen at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon and his colleagues (and broken down in this piece from MIT's Technology Review), has rendered some interesting findings about the trends of urban bikers.

The data analyzed is composed of 11.6 million individual bike trips.  The start and finish location of each trip, as well as its time duration was recorded.  Turns out, the average trip is under 3km.

An average weekend speed of 10km/hr compares to that of an inner-city car ride.  However, the statistics during rush hour turn in the cyclist’s favor, with bicycle speeds averaging up to 15km/hr.  Rush hour for urban bikers is depicted in the data as a sharp spike in average speed as bikers feel the morning rush around 7:45 and 8:45am.  The data also shows higher average speeds on Wednesdays in particular.  This is not due to any change in car traffic, but could be because some women stay at home to care for children on Wednesdays, leaving a higher proportion of male bikers.

The data also reveals the interesting freedoms taken in biking that you don’t have the liberty to perform while driving.  One-way streets, pavement, and stalled traffic are no obstacle for those on only two wheels.  This also makes bike trips shorter than the corresponding car ride would have to be.

Almost 350 stations spread across Lyon rent these bicycles each day.  Parking is therefore easier for Velo’v riders than for those still driving their cars.  Traffic has also improved, with many drivers switching to Velo’v bicycles for their short commutes.  Now, cities around the world have begun shared bicycle systems of their own in hopes of seeing similar fortunate results.




You would be surprised how fast you can get places with a bike. Especially useful in traffic. Great idea and the popularity seems to be growing. With gas prices continuing to stay at high levels, I can see an upward trend in optional transportation.

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