Ok, I’m selling the Porsche!

A guest blog post from Parking & Traffic Consultants’ Senior Traffic Engineer and resident bicycle enthusiast, Andrew Morse.  

Well, I would if I owned one and here are two reasons why I would sell mine.  Firstly, people who buy exotic cars will justify their purchase because they claim to want exquisite quality and exhilarating performance, but that’s nonsense.  In truth they probably buy such a car because they want to stand out, be noticed and admired for their evident success in life.  Not wishing to generalise, but they typically drive with a smugness as if they crafted the vehicle with their own bare hands.  I’ll let you into a secret, they didn’t and you don’t need a Porsche.

About twice a week I ride to work on my bike. It’s a relatively inexpensive bike but it has a classic clean design, an unusually mustard yellow colour and leather-look saddle and handle bar grips.  I can’t tell you why, but people stare at it, whether I’m riding it or if it’s locked up to a lamp-post.  I was watching people walking past it on Oxford Street, Sydney the other day and while Porsches and other exotics drove by with not a glance; my lowly bike got a fair share of interest. 

Great! For less than a grand I get more attention than the Porsche owner who could have bought three of my bikes instead of the built-in GPS unit in his dressed up Beetle.  But, I hear you say, he or she gets around faster. Well, almost, and this leads me to me second reason.

As mentioned in a previous Wayfinding Article, the average traffic speed on the arterial roads of Sydney is slowing during the peak periods and this is probably true of most major cities.  The average peak hour speed on Victoria Road to the west of central Sydney is now 24Kph.

Generally I ride the bike to work using the ferry service between Circular Quay and Mosman wharf and the total journey takes about 45 minutes (house to desk).  The distance covered is 11 kilometres, which equates to an average speed of 14.6 Kph including a short wait at the wharf.  

Sometimes I cycle the whole route without using the ferry and my journey covers 13Kph and takes about 50 minutes, resulting in an average speed of 15.6Kph.  Ok so the bike is almost half the speed of the peak hour traffic, but now for the reality check.

I have owned my car for about two years and in that time have travelled roughly 30,000 kilometres of mainly city driving with some regional driving.  In that time the car has averaged a speed of 26Kph according to the man in the dashboard.  When we talk about average vehicle speed, this is only half the story. My average bike speed is from my house to my desk, whereas my car’s average speed does not allow for walking to and from it.  My typical car commute to work takes 35 minutes between suburbs, finding a parking space near the office can take a further 5 – 10 minutes, then walking to the office takes at least 5 minutes.  So on a good day it takes about 40 minutes from house to desk, while on a bad day it’s more like 50 minutes, but the variation due to traffic conditions is enormous compared to the bike journey; needless to say that it is never less than 40 minutes.  This is a best-case ‘whole journey’ average speed of 19.5Kph, compared with the bike journey of 14.6Kph or 15.6Kph.  Suddenly the car is looking so good and the bloke in the base model Porsche 911 (purchase price of $246,638 in NSW) has invested approximately 275 times the amount of cash for the pleasure of travelling 5Kph faster with nobody admiring him.

So I’m being a little facetious, of course the Porsche is faster than a bike and any car is better for long hilly journeys in the rain with more than one person and some luggage.  But the figures indicate that if you want to commute through a busy city, get on your bike and the brighter the colour the better.  If you don’t believe me, maybe the following photos of my commute will help. 

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