Mixing it up: cycling and public transport

Dithering about whether to cycle or take the train to a series of meetings in London tomorrow, I have a couple of ways to work out my speediest option. The first – for a general indication – is this neat mapping tool from The Guardian a couple of years ago: click on your location, and it shows everywhere to which it will be quicker to cycle than to take public transport – a huge swathe of town, as it turns out. The green area (quicker by bike), which is centred on my own neighbourhood, extends a considerable distance, particularly to areas with little public-transport provision. Tavistock Place, my first destination, just scrapes into a green zone...

Or I could ask Google (below), which has the advantage of suggesting routes – and, in contrast to the map above, it thinks that it might be fractionally quicker to take the train. I'm unconvinced - that might be the case if everything ran entirely smoothly, but when does that ever happen on the Northern Line?!

But what I would really like to see would take this a step further: an app suggesting the speediest way to combine public transport, walking and bike. I frequently mix my mode of travel: in the morning I expect I will, in fact, put my bike on the train to London Bridge and then use it to cycle between meetings. Is this going to be lighter on travel time than taking exclusively public transport?Almost certainly.

An app to do this would need to be smart enough to factor in variables such as bikes being prohibited on trains before 10am, the levels of traffic and the availability of the bike-hire scheme (and would benefit from a sliding scale for cycling speed). It could even incorporate options for quiet, low-pollution or flat-terrain routes. And, if designed in a genuinely user-friendly way, it could help people get around town more quickly, while still encouraging every opportunity for active travel.

If it already exists, I’d love to hear about it…

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