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Cycling faster than driving in heavy traffic | survey

Cycling rules the road in race to city.

Traffic congestion on Adelaide roads is so bad it is quicker to ride a bike to work than drive on some routes, a survey by the RAA shows.

The survey pitted various types of transport - car, bike, bus, train and tram - on four routes across Adelaide into Hindmarsh Square during three consecutive peak-hour mornings. Bikes beat cars in three of the four routes, the exception being Glenelg.


The results clearly show the car is no longer king of the road

Bikes were the quickest form of transport on the Mitcham route to the CBD and second fastest on the Glenelg, Kilburn and Paradise routes.

The results clearly show the car is no longer king of the road, with cycling quicker by up to 13 minutes on the routes surveyed. The RAA now is encouraging motorists to consider cycling as an alternative based on the results of its first travel time survey to include different methods of transport to cars.

RAA spokesman Charles Mountain said more money should be invested in cycling infrastructure to encourage people to use bikes as an alternative to cars for moving around town. He said the survey showed the bike rider would often "sail past cars and buses hamstrung by the traffic flow" while still providing flexible travel times compared to public transport timetables. "Congestion has a significant impact on travel times for both cars and buses compared to bikes," he said.

The survey also found: 

  • BIKES beat buses on all routes except those using the O-Bahn route; 
  • CARS were the quickest of all transport modes on just one route - Glenelg; 
  • BUSES using the O-Bahn took half the time as cars.

Each journey included walking time from the nearest public transport stop or car park to Hindmarsh Square.

"Most people believe their car is the most convenient way to get to work or study commitments in the CBD, but we've found that cycling or public transport can get you there quicker and cheaper on certain journeys so it's worth taking a look," Mr Mountain said.

"Each year we conduct travel time surveys, using a car only, to assess the levels of congestion on Adelaide roads. "Rather than just telling our members that the road network, in many cases, isn't coping, we wanted to test whether there are any viable options on offer, and we think there are." Mr Mountain said the bike times could be achieved by riders with a moderate level of fitness but noted cycling as an option would depend on the weather for many commuters.

Improving cycling infrastructure would help people take up that mode of transport as an option not just for cutting travelling times but also as money saver and way to exercise, Mr Mountain said. "It's important to ensure continuous bikes lanes - at Unley Rd, for example, bike lanes disappear at intersections and this makes riding potentially more dangerous," he said.

Bike SA was not surprised at the survey results, which were a reflection of increasing traffic congestion over the past decade. "People should be considering alternative modes of transport," Bike SA chief executive Christian Haag said.

"You don't need to wear Lycra and barrel along and get sweaty on a bike to beat the car - you can wear a suit but still get past the front of the traffic queue." The RAA survey also found Park 'n' Ride facilities need to be improved "in a few areas" to encourage commuters to use public transport.

However, there were significant savings of up to $2000 a year by leaving the car at home and paying $3.40 per journey for a public transport ticket, Mr Mountain said.