Do Bikes Slow Down Traffic? The Answer Might Surprise You

It happens to every driver at some point. You’re in a rush downtown, late to a meeting and trying to make up time, when suddenly you find yourself stuck behind someone on a bicycle. It feels a bit like a double whammy because bikes travel far slower than motor vehicles. There’s no argument there, but do they really hold up traffic? A recent transportation study found that on low-speed, low-volume city roads without bicycle lanes motor vehicle speeds only varied by 1 mph when cyclists were present. Doubters, commence your scoffing. It’s easy for drivers to assume that cyclists cause slowdowns, but it’s simply not true. By not being a cause of congestion, cyclists on the roads is also not a cause of increased emissions from motorists. On the contrary, evidence has shown that the internal combustion engine is less efficient and pollutes more at slow speeds, particularly when it's idling. As for MGF motorists — must-get-in-front — it would be quicker for them if they just traveled by bicycle.