The concept of “effective speed”

16 10 2012

On The Conversation, a science based news site started by some Australian universities, is a very interesting article on the concept of “effective speed”.

Effective speed is the time your mode of transport costs in time to use, plus the time you have to work to pay for the cost of that transport.

From the article: “For pedestrians, this time is virtually nil. For cyclists it is minimal. For car drivers, the time spent earning the money to pay for all the costs of cars is usually much greater than the time spent driving.

So the idea is that it may take 30 minutes to drive to work, so that’s an hour a day on the car use, and then the costs of the petrol are say $80 a week, and the registration, insurance, maintenance, repairs, the WOF,  the fluffy dice, interest costs on the loan, and the initial cost of the car means the cost of the car to run other than petrol is say $800 a month, and that is suddenly 2 hours a day extra working to pay for it all.  So that’s an effective speed of 3 hours a day. (The numbers are the first thing that came into my head, don’t hold me to them.)

Maybe the bus ride takes 40 minutes and costs $8 a day, which takes 20 minutes of work to pay for.

Catching the bus therefore liberates you by 2 hours a day.

Some of the comments say things like “woe there cowboy. A car is a necessity and is a fixed cost”, and it is true everyone’s effective speed calculus is going to be different because all of our situations are different, but going from a 2 car family to a 1 car family pays back bigtime with extra time, and if you can work out a way to not own a car, and it works for you than that can be truly liberating.

It’s a pity that “effective speed” isn’t used in the calculations for whether roading projects go ahead. They’re usually justified by their supposed time benefits which is a system that is frequently subject to some dodgy accounting  and completely ignores the mathematics of induced demand.

Again from the article:“Unlike drivers, increases in trip speed for cyclists could result in a substantial increase in their effective speed. This is because the main time component for cycling is the time spent on the bicycle. Increases in trip speeds for cyclists could be achieved with minimal cost.”

If governments understand the concept of effective speed they will also appreciate the futility of trying to save time by trying to increase the average trip speeds of private motor vehicles. Cities that invest most effectively in cycling infrastructure will have more time and money to devote to things other than transport, including health promotion.

Improving urban health might be as simple as valuing the time of cyclists more than the time of motorists.”

It makes building the Great Harbour Way look pretty clever, and building Transmission Gully look pretty stupid.


They breed them especially bright in Auckland

7 10 2012

This morning on the Herald’s website was a story about a code of ethics for cyclists on Tamaki Drive – Cyclists soothe road fury. In the story the Herald’s hack, Joanne Carroll,  interviewed some motorists for their opinions on cyclists. Notable amongst them was one Peter Dee who said this:

“You will find people are either for them or against them and I’m against them. I’m a believer in size matters. I don’t believe they have the right to be on the road at all. I’m all for cycle lanes but I’m also for user pays. They say you have to give them 1.5m, but on Tamaki Drive that’s impossible. If they want to cycle go to a velodrome.”

Now Joanne may have had to look hard for an anti-cycling nutter, but I am assuming she just looked for a random man staggering out of a pub at 2am and interviewed whoever she came across.

Now we have lampooned anti-cyclist nutters before on this blog – such as this man:

Common to gorillas, chimpanzees and spin bowlers the sideways tongue signifies a primitive primate deep in thought.

But I’m not about to lampoon Auckland genius Peter Dee. No, not at all. In fact his suggestion that all cyclists should only ride at a velodrome has a lot of merit.

So from January 1 2013  all cars on New Zealand roads are not to be driven on New Zealand roads, but at Manfeild instead.

Manfeild, the bit of Feilding where you play brumm-brumms.

Without any cars parking, driving, or dooring cyclists on Tamaki Drive, along with every other road in New Zealand, cyclists can finally escape the confines of their velodromes and start using the road network as if they really do own the roads, rather than just being one of the types of legitimate road users.

There is really no excuse for any road user not to be looking out to the safety of every other road user, and if you think cyclists don’t belong on a road, like Peter Dee of Auckland, then really you have no business being on the road yourself.

Slow down, and if you can’t give them 1.5m clearance then bloody well wait patiently and only pass when safe.