I wouldn’t expect anyone reading this site to dispute the idea that commuting on two wheels is a good idea. The savings in time, fuel and maintenance costs are significant. A scooter can even pay for itself in savings over the course of a few years. But what you might not expect, is just how much your daily scooter jog to work could actually benefit everyone else on the road.
The Belgian transport research group TML did a study in Brussels along a 10-mile stretch of busy road. They measured traffic flow during rush times using a series of sensors, then fed that real world info into their computer models to simulate the effects of changes to certain factors. What’s most interesting is what happened when they started considering the use of two wheel vehicles such as scooters and motorcycles.
This is where motorcycle behaviour comes into play: in free-flowing traffic a motorcycle uses the same space on the road as a car, just another slot in a line of traffic, but as the density increases, motorcycles start to use less and less space, eventually disappearing altogether between the traffic queues. The study expresses this as a Passenger Car Equivalent space, or PCE. On an open road a motorcycle has the same value as a car, 1, but as the traffic comes to a standstill it drops to 0, where the bikes are filtering through stationary cars and in effect using no road space, or at least none that’s contributing to congestion. It’s a variable that has some major knock-on effects.
Satisfied that the model reflected the real world accurately and the PCE value for motorcycles was accurate, TML next looked at the consequences on traffic flow of one in 10 car drivers switching to motorcycles. The results were astonishing. The travel time for the remaining 90 per cent of car drivers at the 7.50am peak increased by just six minutes instead of 14, while the queues started later and dissipated sooner.
With a tenth of car drivers now using motorcycles, the main queue is gone by 8.30am instead of 9.10am, while the number of “lost vehicle hours” decreases by 63 per cent to 706.
The individuals making the switch, of course, would enjoy even faster journey times once the queues start to form, but they would also be helping their fellow commuters.
The article then goes on to describe environmental and economic benefits shared by not just those who made the switch to two wheels, but everyone else on the road as well. And frankly, one driver in ten is an attainable cultural shift, even here in The States. The one factor not common to American roadways, however, is the legality of motorcycles and scooters filtering through stopped traffic.
So far only California residents really get to enjoy a riding privilege extended throughout the world. Imagine the difference if in Chicago, as in Paris for instance, scooters and motorcycles could filter through stopped traffic to the front of the line at traffic lights. That’d make riding on two wheels that much more advantageous, but as demonstrated in this study, everybody on the roadway could benefit. Check out the source article for the rest of the results.