WASHINGTON, DC– Today is the 25th anniversary of “Ride to Work Day.” For those unfamiliar, this is an annual event that promotes motorcycling as an option for commuting to work. It’s estimated that a very small sliver of the population uses motorcycles as their main mode of transportation to and from work. Some reasons for the small percentage may be due to weather conditions or other “logistical” issues that are not easily remedied. However, if more people were to commute on motorcycles, it begs the question of what possible effects might be realized by not only motorcyclists, but automobile drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians and even the environment?
A private research company based out of Belgium attempted to answer the question posed above. The firm, Transport & Mobility Leuven, specializes in quantitative transport research and transport modeling. In 2011 they published, “Commuting by Motorcycle: Impact Analysis.” The report looked not only at traffic flow and congestion, but also what might happen to vehicle emissions and air quality. The results proved quite interesting. The Leuven study found that in Belgium, if 10% of all automobiles were replaced by motorcycles, the total time loss for all vehicles decreases by 40%. Note that this is not time loss for just those on motorcycles… this includes all drivers on the road.
In addition, the study looked at the impact on emissions and found that because motorcycles emit fewer pollutants (CO2, etc) compared to average cars, external emission costs of motorcycles are almost 20% lower than automobiles. And total emission costs could be reduced by 6% if 10% of automobiles were replaced by motorcycles.
It’s important to note that the study was done in a particular region of Belgium and the data was then extrapolated out to the entire country. And clearly, Belgium is not America! However, it does make one wonder what findings would be determined if a similar study was repeated in the U.S.? Certainly it would depend on the region and a number of other factors, but it is possible that similar results could be found.
To learn more about the study and review the final report, click on the following link: http://www.tmleuven.com/project/motorcyclesandcommuting/20110921_Motorfietsen_eindrapport_Eng.pdf