Friday, 10 August 2012

Car vs. Bus vs. Bicycle

Just noticed this on John Allen's blog from a few years ago. John Allen has some great criticisms of it, but I had to repost the image, as I think it's a great illustration of the potential solutions to gridlock.

Of course, I say 'potential solutions', because one of the problems with the bicycles in the above image is that they are not in single file and they are taking up the whole width of the road. Apart from the issues of physical space that John brings up, a big problem is that the current state of the most popular brand of cycling advocacy here in the US (paint and path advocacy) makes it almost a maxim that cyclists should always stick to sidewalks, sidepaths, bike lanes and - if all else fails - the gutter - and then they should ride only in single file (for fear of annoying motorists, most of whom have no idea that passing cyclists riding two-abreast is actually easier and quicker than passing them in single file). If cyclists ride in the way the paint and path advocates say they should, the line of cyclists would stretch back to where the line of cars ends.

So while cyclists choose to deny themselves full and proper use of the road, and while state and local laws continue to try to restrict cyclists' right to the road, cycling can never be a solution.

Another issue that this image fails to illustrate is that the bus is unlike a bike or a car in one fundamental way - it is not a form of personal transportation! Buses are communal, and because they are communal, they do not take a rider from door to door, they are often late, and sometimes they don't run at all. So although it is definitely a space-saver, it is not as efficient (in terms of comfort, speed or ease-of-use) as a bike or a car.


  1. I liked using the bus when I lived in Canada, until I found a cheap bike. The buses were pretty much on time there and so it was convenient to travel by bus. In Dallas, there are buses, but I prefer to ride my bike, as the bus schedule is very inconvenient and they do take a long time to get to most places.

    Taking the lane is the most sensible and safest thing to do, when there is not enough room in a lane to share with a car. That's what I encourage people to do.

    Peace :)

  2. Interesting revelation! It'd be good if there were an all-bike city. Unfortunately that's usually restricted to Universities or dreams.