Cyclists prefer comfortable routes over fast ones

  • Soort:Nieuws Fietsberaad
  • Datum:15-04-2013

P+R (Park and Ride) and cycling facilities don&'t always have to be have to be planned with the fastest route in mind. If a route is comfortable or attractive, cyclists generally don&'t mind if it is somewhat longer.


  • This is what Mark van Hagen of the Dutch Railways says after studying the way people experience waiting in the context of PhD research. This earier research led to changes in the seating in railway waiting rooms, fully deploying increased comfort as a strategy to make waiting times seem shorter. One doesn’t have to reduce actual waiting times - for instance by crowding the train schedule. These insights can be applied beyond the station, as Van Hagen subsequently learned. Indeed one can deliberately strive for more comfort to influence the way travel times are experienced within the entire mobility system. In the case of cyclists: a minute of cycling along a comfortable, pleasant and diversified cycling route will seem to pass much faster than the same minute spent cycling along a busy, and boring main road. By deliberately planning a cycle route through varied landscape, one can make the way to and from the station seem much shorter. This will encourage people to cycle from the station to their final destination more often. To illustrate his point Hagen and Goudappel conducted a small field study about the way people experience travel times and their modal chioce when using different bicycle routes between Utrecht Central Station and Ravellaan, where a municipal office is located. The route along the noisy Weg der Verenigde Naties is unpleasant, but 200 meters shorter than the pleasant route along the water via the Leidseweg. However 85% of respondents preferred the longer route. When asked about their motives 60% of respondents indicated this to be the fastest route, while 40% also think that this is the shortest route. As for the estimated travel time the answers showed a wide range - from 5 to 20 minutes: People apparantly have no idea of actual travel time. Thus augmenting the comfort and enjoyment of cycle routes can considerably improve how cyclists experience their travel times and thereby improve the usage of those routes, according to Hagen.

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Cyclists prefer comfortable routes over fast ones

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