Calculating my Bicycle Commute Time

This morning, as I was “enjoying” the moderating effects of a chilly headwind, I amused myself by trying to calculate how much longer my commute was taking.

My typical cycling speed is around 15-18 miles per hour, but because of the wind, I was going around 12 mph. My commute is about 3.5 miles. Dividing 15 by 3.5, multiplying by 60 to get minutes … argh! I can’t do that in my head.

So, I reversed the order of the calculations, and calculated how many minutes it takes to travel a mile at some common bicycling speeds.

Miles Per HourMinutes Per Mile
106
125
154
203
302

I noticed a couple of things as I pedaled along:

  1. Calculating my normal commute time got a lot easier: for example, 3.5 miles × 4 minutes per mile = 14 minutes.
  2. The headwind, although it slowed me down a few miles an hour, wasn’t going to make a big difference in my commute time: just 3.5 minutes.

Woo hoo!

So slow it down a little, take some pictures, and enjoy the ride. :-)

I wondered why these results are so counter intuitive. Take a look at the vast differences in time depending on speed.

But look again. Most of the difference in time is for speeds less than 10 mph. For my short commute, there isn’t a huge difference in total time whether I go 10 mph or 60 mph. Better yet, there’s even less difference in time per mile for my typical biking speeds of 10 to 20 mph.

By the way, this is directly applicable to commuting by car, too.

<3

Author: Brent Logan

Engineer. Lawyer. WordPress geek. Longboarder. Blood donor. Photographer. More about Brent.

2 thoughts on “Calculating my Bicycle Commute Time”

  1. Great research! Now that you have that figured out you will know how to pace the ride… and watch out those interesting photo opportunities that most people miss!

    1. Yeah, I don’t push it too hard when I ride to work. Normally I stop at the Starbucks halfway and enjoy a hot drink while reading a book or going through emails. Then, halfway between Starbucks and work is a field across the street from the airport. I like to stop there and take pictures.

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