New Study Shows Why Bicycles Are The Future

Deloitte have recently published a study outlining the important role that bicycles will undertake in the future of urban transport. Predominantly, the role they will play will be in reducing traffic congestion, which may be worsened by self-driving cars, along with urban air quality and public health.

The study suggests that the number of people who will bike to work, by 2022, will have doubled. The caveat, of course, is that this is only referring to major cities around the world, not the world in its entirety.

The effects of having more bicycles on the roads (or designated paths), is there will be fewer cars. As it stands, most cars are still run on gasoline, so this could play a huge part in slowing down the negative developments of global warming. More specifically, it could clear up the air quality in urban areas and improve public health as a result. 

The Coronavirus has been a great example of how societal can clear up the air in a very short period of time. Despite more cars being on the road as a result of lockdown measures easing up, putting bicycles into the mix wouldn’t contribute anything to air pollution.

We have to take into consideration, like Deloitte has in their study, that the population within these major cities are still rising. More congestion and people are expected to be sharing the same space, and bicycles take up much less of this space. They’re smaller than cars, they require smaller lanes, and they’re much more efficiently stacked when parking.

Public Health
A huge concern over urban living is the obesity rates, particularly in the West. For example, over 70 million adults are obese in the US, which equates to around 39.6% according to the NHANES 2016 study.

The exercise that goes along with riding a bicycle to work is going to play a big role in cutting down obesity rates. More cultural changes are needed to completely address the issue, but it’s often reported that positive changes in transportation can lead to other positive changes in lifestyle, such as bringing your own lunch to work.

Breathing in smoke in urban areas is proven to be a contributing factor to asthma issues along with lung cancer. There is a possibility that electric bicycles will remove some of the physical activity benefit, but improving the air quality remains paramount to our health. Plus, many high-quality electric bicycles have the option of turning their electric assistance on and off, which gives users more control over their exercise.


If anyone has ever tried driving to work in London, they will realise that using a bicycle or public transports has a selfish motive, not an altruistic one (of course, in reality, it’s both). Some will find themselves paying £5 an hour for parking. 

Many new offices are taking Dutch inspiration and building in designated bicycle parking spaces. These are tightly compact, often overlooked by security cameras, and cost nothing for the workers.

Some bicycles are designed to fold up too, meaning they can be carried onto public transport if the journey is too far to cycle alone, but takes too long to walk to and from the station. Of course, time is the number one issue for commuters, and according to Work Wise UK, cycling commuters spend less time commuting (42 minutes) than drivers (52 minutes) and rail users (2 hours 11 minutes). 

This frees up a huge amount of time in a workers life when taking into consideration the whole year, and is likely to contribute to better sleep quality too. There’s even some controversy surrounding e-bikes, because they can reach car-like speeds which could be dangerous on cycle paths.

What will be required for these developments
Of course, there’s some proactive measures that need to be in place in order to ensure the transition to a bicycle-based commute system in a city. The cities that will achieve the Deloitte study’s forecasts are the cities that are developing a more sophisticated cycle path infrastructure, much like Dutch and German cities already have in place. 

This often includes having a separate “road” for bicycles, that lay between the pavement and the road. This does mean that pedestrians will have to cross the left facing cycle path, the road, and then the right facing cycle path in order to reach the other pavement.

Other measures such as congestion charges, toll roads, car/road tax and petrol tax hikes all have contributed to the already-growing bicycle community. The core thing left, particularly in places like Britain, is the attitude towards being a cyclist itself. Instead of being seen as an annoyance, because they’re often in the way of cars due to their own lack of infrastructure, they are slowly becoming recognized as societally-conscious community members that are fit and healthy.

62 thoughts on “New Study Shows Why Bicycles Are The Future”

  1. I knew one guy who commutes to work from Queenstown, New Zealand, to Sydney, Australia.

    He does NOT do so by bicycle.

  2. Again, like I’ve stated above, there is such a thing as nuance, which Americans are not very good at these days. We’re not saying to force everyone on a bike, just to use cars much, much less if possible, to free up our city centers.

  3. Reading back over my comments, I see that I may be coming on a bit too pro “everyone should cycle“.
    This is NOT my intent.
    Indeed, a little over 10 years ago I had to give up cycling for a couple of years because of a major health issue, so I can totally sympathise with people who can’t ride.
    And I’ll admit that my home town probably has better weather than anywhere in North America or Europe.
    I’m just responding to some comments that depict things in what I see as an unrealistically bad light.

  4. I would say that the reasons I would NOT ride somewhere are, in order:

    1. Theft
    2. Weather
    3. Traffic

    My solution to 1, is a “pub bike”. An old hardtail mountain bike that I bought for $5. I’m not that concerned that it might be stolen.
    BUT, as is the way with such thing, every couple of months I end up adding better shocks, more expensive tyres, nice lights, etc. etc. It’s probably worth closer to $100 now.

  5. But the whole point of Tron lightcycles is to make the other guy crash and de-Rez!
    Safety? Not so much.

  6. That’s missing my point. I’m not claiming that England suits bicycles now. I’m saying that whether or not people on the other side of the oceans have adopted bikes has no bearing on bike riding in England.
    It was just a random country that I picked as an example. Let’s change it to another place if that’s too unrealistic to accept.

    Having the hated Turks continue in their car driving ways does not stop the inhabitants of Fiji from enjoying clean air and exercise, providing they have appropriate riding conditions in their own local area.

  7. Somewhat related: this pandemic would be the perfect time to switch to a work week of 9 hours a day MTW or TFS (half the workers in the office at any time), plus 10 hours working from home on the other schedule for cross-schedule collaborations (no cross-schedule meetings on Mondays or Saturdays).

  8. Unlike walking or running and especially with an e-bike you get much more breeze for a given effort. Much cooler to ride than walk. Something tells me that most people here that comment negatively on bikes have very little experience riding a bike.

  9. Gentlemen, I applaud and admire your devotion to cycling. More power to you! I just don’t think it’s practical for most folks.

  10. Another thing to consider is that Elon Musk’s cars in a tube are basically large PRT pods.

    Right now it’s hard to get PRT off the ground – it takes a lot of infrastructure before all the places you want to go are covered. And it’s hard to get the level 4 self driving car off the ground – lots of edge cases for its poor AI brain to compute.

    But if you put the car in a tube or an elevated track, it has no edge cases to worry about, and since the car can reenter city streets once it leaves the track, you don’t need your PRT system to go everywhere. You also don’t need to design a new PRT pod car or run electronics in the track or set up boarding stations. You can just run a dumb concrete track above the freeway with a ramp and a gate that only opens for robots. Maybe create some kind of open standard so that other players besides Tesla owners can get in.

    It doesn’t free us from car ownership or expand the bicycle frontier, but it is a radically simpler version of PRT.

  11. Sounds like an enjoyable morning! I applaud their sense of adventure. That said, I know plenty of folks who make the Mandeville to New Orleans commute every day. It’s about 90 miles round trip. Lots of folks just don’t like living in crowded, noisy cities. I don’t mean to sound anti bicycle, though. We’d certainly have a healthier population if more people did it. It’s just not practical.

  12. Yep, that’s the real reason we won’t be seeing it take off in America any time soon. A city can be designed with bikes in mind, but it’s hard to retrofit a standard suburb.

  13. Wow! Impressive!! Though I was hoping more for the 1982 version. It had an enclosed cockpit which I assume would keep out rain, etc. as well protect you in a crash. That’s the thing about motorcycles. Once you crash at high speed there’s no metal frame to protect you.

  14. Yeah, right: I’ve seen dew on the ground in the shadows of the trees on 105F days, here in SC. Sweating doesn’t do you a lot of good at 100% relative humidity.

  15. Russ, I tend to agree. However, I am super impressed by the hike and bike trails that have been built in Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth. They take the bike routes along rivers and creeks, completely away from any roads or highways. Very similar to the western cities of Germany.

  16. You’ve got to be kidding. I’ve driven from London to Birmingham to Sheffield to Leeds to Manchester. Riding a bike in any of those cities (outside of a few square blocks) would be treacherous. England’s whole road system was developed before the popularity of cars. Bicycles sharing those roads with cars is almost a guaranteed death wish…

  17. I’ve been to 13 European countries and 30 cities. Bicycles hauling children everywhere? Not quite. Maybe Amsterdam and parts of Berlin and Bonn…

    Now, if you count motor scooters with their high injury and death rates, then you might have an argument…

  18. Peachtree City, GA was built as a golf-oriented community, so they built golf cart paths everywhere. Now people using them for walking, biking, and running, in addition to the golf carts. The problem is most cities were not laid out with this in mind, so they don’t have space for non-auto paths. A conventional city would have to build bike paths *over* the vehicular streets, because you still need deliveries to support buildings.

  19. Bicycles as a serious part of urban transport infrastructure are a harmful fantasy. A significant part of the population is completely excluded. Making cities pedestrian and bicycle friendly is a a good thing. Making transport seriously dependent on this is delusional.

  20. Or we could just decide that high density living was a mistake, and disperse our populations a bit. And bikes would just be leisure toys.

  21. There are some practical problems with bikes that need to be solved.
    Bikes are convenient and usually faster on average than both cars and public transport for short and medium distances in city environments. There are a few drawbacks that must be addressed before the general public will want to adopt biking in great numbers.

    1. Bad weather is common. This includes rain, snow, wind and sun. There must be environmental protection (roof) over main bike roads. Here in Sweden, conditions are really hostile for half of the year.
    2. Traffic safety is not good. There must be dedicated bike roads and lanes to separate bikes from cars. Search youtube for bike/car accidents in China for a graphic illustration of the problem.
    3. Bike thefts are a major problem. You can’t really park your expensive bike and expect to find it ever again. There must be provisions for safe parking.
  22. It’s perfectly possible to have a high speed car free future transit system like personal rapid transit along with a large bicycle lane infrastructure. PRTs might start appearing once self driving cars start achieving level 4+ autonomy (even though the pods have their own car and pedestrian free right of way if hanging from a beam they still need som self driving prowess to speed up and slow down). In somewhere like London this would allow me to trade/economically match with people across the entire city conurbination via the PRT, but then get quickly and safely around a 10-20km area around my home on bicycle (or take the PRT if it is snowing).

  23. In Australia the limit on E-bikes is only 25 km/h.
    Which is slower than my average speed on my commute to work.

  24. There is a related equation of S – 1.
    Where S is the number of bikes (guns, cars, Anime videos…) that will cause your spouse to leave you.

  25. I admit I didn’t really know the difference between the two until now. But nevertheless, I just really like the idea of doing most of my errands with a bike, regardless of whether it’s a cargo bike, or a bike with a tow kit. But to answer your question, you can get a mountain bike that goes up to 20 miles per hour, or a city bike that goes up to 25 miles per hour. I believe that city bikes are allowed tow kits, but I don’t believe that the local shop sells cargo bikes. Personally though, I would prefer a bike with a tow kit, since it’s more versatile.

  26. So you would have to get a cargo bike instead of a bike with a tow kit? Seems kind of arbitrary 🙂
    In the US at least the speed of E-bikes is not as tightly regulated as in the EU (25kph)?

  27. I’m not against high speed transit, but I live in a separate world from you. I live approximately a mile away from a shopping center. There will be no high-speed anything here, but a more pragmatic approach to getting around that doesn’t entail driving for any conceivable reason. I strongly believe that cars would be better off being used much, much less, if not entirely abandoned. Sure, cars are fine for grocery shopping and intercity travel, but not to drive to drive-throughs to get drinks and hamburgers and any other reason under the sun. So the primary focus, in my opinion, should be localities. Run more buses, free up the city centers, and repurpose them for other things. High-speed transit in the US remains a very distant and very costly venture.

  28. Fascinating. N+1 is also a magic equation for firearms owners once you round out the basic groups of pistol, rifle, AR, shotgun.

  29. You make some fine points. But electric bikes are a thing, although tow kits are highly frowned upon by the government. I visited a shop recently, and they explained the regulations to me. Maybe it could be overcome somewhat though.

  30. Nuance is not a strong point in America these days. The truth is, where I live at least, you could easily mix cars and buses, and allow people inside of the inner suburbs to use cars, while also enabling those closer to the main roads to use mostly buses. Even if people still use cars, there wouldn’t have to be as many. So the shopping center near where I live could be repurposed to make room for a much better city design. There is WAY too much room taken up by parking lots in general, but especially where I live. The truth is that Utah has winters, but I think that it would be technically feasible to create underground tunnels for bikes. Maybe it’s a ‘pipe dream’, but Elon Musk has shown us the way forward.

    Point being, people could still use cars to get to work, and for grocery shopping, and also for a few other things, but the primacy of the automobile has ruined our cities, as far as it stands. Our city centers need to be reclaimed for human beings, rather than hurling chunks of metal.

  31. Well i’m only working 30h a week and now with Covid i can do some days of homeoffice too. So i only go to work by bike when the weather is good! 😉 It is 40km (25 miles) away, but for 2-3 days a week it is ok. I do live in Austria though, so November-February i have to go by train (mostly because of the salted streets that would ruin my bike – Ok there is the cold too! 🙂 ).

    Couple of Points:

    • Yeah no children
    • Public transport in Austria is pretty good
    • I live in the city (a car in the city is just annoying) and travel to work outside of the city

    Shopping with the bike is no problem really, the only problem i have is going climbing, but so far there is enough friends with cars.

    I get that this is not for everyone, but i’m sure there are at least some people that could make it work and be much happier for it…

  32. No no no. The future of transit should be high speed. We need to expand and grow the economy. The best way to do that is by giving people more of their time back. That’s more time they can spend it either at work making money, or at home with her family relaxing, or out and about spending money. The primary focus on future transit should be high speed and time saving. Secondary focus should be green. Also, we would need high density, Manhattan style density to even make bikes or public transit viable.

  33. 30 miles is a bit far.

    I work with people who ride that far. Just this morning two of them, who had about 4 miles to travel to work, took a 26 mile detour to get a nice meal of bacon and egg rolls.

    But this was:

    1. Not every day. It’s only on Wednesdays
    2. Too far for me, and most sane people. They left home before 6 am, with the sun rise at 6:49
  34. I’m not the author, but:
    1. Has the author met a regular cyclist commuter – especially if neighbour, co-worker, co-cyclist, pedestrian crossing a cycle lane?

    I see people cross cycle lanes all the time. What about them?

    2. Has the author attempted to live a full month with only a bicycle, access to transit, and delivery services
    I sold my car at Christmas time, so that’s over 7 months on bicycle alone. I certainly haven’t gone near public transport because they’re all pestilent and diseased this year.

    if you’re a lower-middle class, No

    single, No

    non-materialistic, I think not

    between the ages of 19 and 59, Guilty

    do ALL (for years) your retailing and socializing within 3 blocks
    Within 30 km, does that count?

    your job requires you to go to the same place every day Guilty

    you don’t have real seasons, Temperature only varied between 5 and 47 degrees so far

    vacationing is mostly by plane Guilty

    3. What percent of GDP is bicycle? Reducing costs reduces spending. Who knew?

    4. The mentality of if I have a lot of things and i maintain them, I will work hard and be ambitious to get more things and therefore push this economy is not as present in a non-car-owner and especially weak in a cyclist. HAH!!! You have NEVER spent much time looking at cyclists. $300 jerseys, $500 shoes, $10 000 carbon fibre bike every 2 years, $500 lights, $1750 shocks

  35. I did the bike only no car thing for a year. First year out of college, working on campus, same old roommates and putting every penny against student loans. It was fine to be super frugal for a bit, but not a real lifestyle. I came away from it hating buses and realizing that the vast majority of life experiences would be walled off from me if I kept living that way.

    Even if I was willing to make that trade off, I wouldn’t do it now that I’m not in my 20’s. Sometimes I see a middle aged person on a bike, and I don’t think “He cares about the environment and health,” instead I think, “He drank too much and lost his license.” At my age, you can own a bike for recreational purposes, but if you’re dependent on a bike, there’s something wrong with you.

    That said, there are some countries with denser living environments and better transit. If it was practical and everyone around me was doing it, it does sound rather nice. But this isn’t something that will pop up around here any time soon.

  36. I could see bike use expanding – just not becoming the dominant mode of transport. It’s the opposite of what happens in developing nations as the people there get richer. Unless the report assumes we’ll all be getting poorer?

    One thing cities might consider, to encourage bike use, is adding elevated bike expressways, enclosed to reduce weather effects.

    Self-driving cabs, especially electric ones, will have big impact, hopefully within the decade. With no human driver, many cabs could have a single row of seats, allowing them to be shorter, helping congestion somewhat. The number of full sedan robo-cabs will be smaller – Tesla should be considering a 2-seater city EV, if they’re serious about robo-taxis being their future.

    Luxurious SD shuttle vans should also become common for commuters once suburbanites can get an inexpensive SD taxi arriving quickly on demand to take them to a SD shuttle van center. Heck, on nice days, they might even ride their bike there.

  37. Collective action problems are much easier to coordinate over a city wide basis than a world wide basis.

    Having the hated Canadians continue in their car driving ways does not stop the inhabitants of England from enjoying clean air and exercise, providing they have appropriate riding conditions in their own local area.

  38. Now you are on the verge of rediscovering the N+1 equation beloved of bike enthusiasts everywhere.
    Correct number of bikes to own = N+1, where N is the current number of bikes you own.

  39. What moron thinks that the actively growing sunbelt, where blacktop temperatures *routinely* hit 105+F, is going to be a growth market for bicycle commuting? This is nonsense on stilts.

  40. Completely agree. As a Prius owner, I’m all for protecting the environment. But I’m not giving up that car until someone pries it out of my cold, dead hands. On the other hand, I’ve been waiting since 1982 for someone to invent a real Tron bike.

  41. Or worse: The weather was nice when you went to work in the morning, but is cold and rainy when it is time to go home. Personal autos became so popular for a long list of reasons. Persuading people to ignore those reasons would be very difficult. In places where many of those reasons are not true, many people don’t use a personal auto. If you believe use of personal autos should be reduced, concentrate on eliminating the reasons people find them better.

  42. What ever is the problem with Children? A wagon at the back for young ones or older ones can ride themselves. Visit any European country and little kids are being towed everywhere. After lock down you need to get out more.

  43. Cycling sounds cool until it’s cold and raining outside and it’s time to go to work. Not to mention that you live 30 miles away from your office.

  44. Is that adequately redundant? Maybe we should each have a car and two or three bikes along with some scooters and roller skates to go with our bus and subway pass.

  45. What do you have against monks? They’re doing their own thing in their monasteries, why the hate?

    If you do meet a monk out and about, they’re most likely doing the same work that a secular (i.e., non-monastic) priest would be doing, so not particularly annoying.

  46. I look at career cyclists as I do vegans, monks, doomsday-preppers, career marathon-runners, etc. Just a kind of self-miserating, anti-establishment, self-denialist, self-congratulatory/ righteous group of …. (argh – there are no words bad enough). That being said, having a nice car for the week and cycling on the weekend paths for a few hours is great.

  47. 1. Has the author met a regular cyclist commuter – especially if neighbour, co-worker, co-cyclist, pedestrian crossing a cycle lane? 2. Has the author attempted to live a full month with only a bicycle, access to transit, and delivery services – ok, if you’re a lower-middle class, single, non-materialistic, between the ages of 19 and 59, do ALL (like, for years) your retailing and socializing within 3 blocks or the exact transit route (not more than 1 transfer), your job requires you to go to the same place every day or nowhere, you don’t have real seasons, vacationing is mostly by plane or train – then ok-ish. 3. What percent of GDP is bicycle and what is car and its services? uh-huh. 4. The mentality of if I have a lot of things and i maintain them, I will work hard and be ambitious to get more things and therefore push this economy is not as present in a non-car-owner and especially weak in a cyclist. 5. You consider moving your legs a bit on and off for 45 minutes and getting just sweaty enough to be annoying or requiring a separate shower as real exercise. ((in summary, I would rather be dead than depend on bicycles and transit and car rentals for my life))

  48. “If we all stopped using cars and everyone started using bikes to go everywhere , the air would be so much cleaner and we would be so much fitter”.

    Spot the problem with that statement.

    Similar to this other one:

    “If we all stopped hating each other and warring, there would be World peace”.

    Technically true, but useless.

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