The Fastest Way There

StopwatchcompactThe other day my wife drove over to Washington Hospital Center for a routine medical test while I was at home in Arlington. She called after her test to let me know that some medication she had received made her uncomfortable driving home and would I mind coming to pick her up (plaudits for her sense of responsibility: not taking a chance driving while not feeling right). She had the car, though. She suggested I take a cab (I could have Metroed there, too), but I countered that by the time I waited for the cab I could probably bike there. . .and it was a nice day out, to boot. I estimated it would take about 45 minutes to ride; if I waited 15 minutes for a 25-minute cab ride, that would be 40 minutes--a wash in terms of time; big savings on the cab fare.

So I biked over. It was a bit shorter than my estimate: 38 minutes. She was amazed that I had arrived so quickly when I called from outside the hospital to ask where to come get her. She told me later that it had taken her about that long to drive over herself.

Travel in urban areas by bicycle is often the fastest and most efficient way to travel. This has been my experience for years as a bike commuter. It's always faster than transit. And often faster than cars--especially during rush hour. Here are some links supporting this point:

- Average speed of a car in London is just 7mph, says CitroenManonbikemediumcartoon

- Travelling by bicycle is faster than you think
- Proof that biking is the fastest way to get around town (Scroll down to page 4)
- Crosstown traffic in New York City was 5.2 mph in 2000 (you can almost walk this fast!)
- This European Commission study indicates trips of 5 km or less are fastest by bicycle.

We have a foldable bike rack that we keep in the trunk of the car, which I can mount in a minute or two. I got my wife, we put the bike on the car, and I drove her home. We hit a bit of traffic on N. Capitol Street which bogged us down. So guess how long it took us to drive home (and not even rush hour yet)? That's right - 38 minutes!

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