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O'Neil - van der Slot (2018) Bicycle Study

For Immediate Release:

April 10, 2018

Paper Presented at TRF

Shows Bicycles in Chicago Offer Trip Times Faster than Transit Competitive with Uber, and More Predictable than Both

A study presented at this week’s Annual Transportation Research Forum in Minneapolis finds that bicycles in Chicago offer trip times that are faster than transit and roughly the same as UberPool, while having trip times that are more reliable than either transit or UberPool.

The study is based on an analysis of 45 matched trips made in 2016 between randomly selected points throughout the City of Chicago.  It evaluates the differences in time predictability of three modes – public transit, UberPool, and bike – for trips involving travel between the downtown district, the outer downtown district, and neighborhoods located outside the downtown district.  These are all daytime trips between 3.5 miles and 15.6 miles.

UberPool is a form of ride-sharing that allows drivers to pick up additional passengers en route, thus, allowing a roughly 40-percent cost reduction compared with regular UberX service.  Overall, biking proved faster than public transit on 33 of the 45 trips and faster than UberPool on 21 of 45 trips.  Furthermore, multiple regression analysis showed that bicycle travel had more predictable travel times than the other modes.  Transit involves unpredictable waiting times at stations and (for buses) in traffic congestion, while UberPool involves unpredictable waiting time in traffic congestion and when picking up and dropping off additional passengers.  The unpredictability of these waiting periods contributes to the higher unpredictability of trip times for transit and UberPool trips.  More than half of the total bicycle mileage on all routes could be ridden on dedicated bike lanes and trails.  However, on trips between neighborhoods, many of the streets were not marked to indicate bike lanes or shared lanes, which is likely to discourage bicycle use.

The study shows that commuters who travel by bike are probably motivated by more than the environmental, economic, psychological, and health benefits of bicycling – they are also likely to experience time savings compared with transit and reduced uncertainty in the time required to reach their destination.

The study recommends prioritizing low-cost infrastructure improvements, such as signage designating bike lanes, along routes that connect neighborhoods outside of downtown. In the absence of a separated bike lane, these efforts both encourage drivers to share the road and protect cyclists riding in traffic.


About TRF

The Transportation Research Forum (TRF) is an independent organization of transportation professionals founded in 1958 to provide an impartial meeting ground for carriers, shippers, government officials, consultants, university researchers, suppliers, and others seeking an exchange of information and ideas on both passenger and freight transportation.  TRF conducts a national Annual Forum, and has chapters in New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Louis, and South Korea.


Ian Savage, TRF President

Ann Warner LLC, TRF VP Public Relations
[email protected]