Having travelled into Belfast on a daily basis for the best part of 20 years, I’ve really noticed how the traffic has continually been building up year on year.  With this being a hot topic at the moment, and Belfast being ranked as the 3rd worst city in the UK for congestion, I thought I would conduct a very unscientific experiment on my commute from just outside Downpatrick to Belfast, which is approximately 35km. 

The parameters were simple….travel by bike; travel by car; and, travel by a combination of car & bike.  The bus was not considered in this experiment as it would also involve a run from the nearest stop…maybe next time!!


At this time of year the 7.15am start was dark and cold, with the temperature reading 0°C.  However, with plenty of warm clothing and some good bike lights, conditions were ideal, particularly as there was no wind, ice or rain.  Overall, the bike journey took 1h 14min, averaging approx. 28.6km/h.


The car journey is unfortunately the mode of transport I usually take, mainly because I need the transport for work during the day!!  Overall, the same journey took 1h 22mins to complete, averaging around 25.6km/h.  The bulk of that time was spent in traffic in the greater Belfast area!!


This commute involved driving approximately 29km to the park and ride facility at Cairnshill on the outskirts of Belfast, and taking the bike the remaining distance.  The overall time for the journey was just 54mins, averaging 38km/h. 


  • Bike Journey – 1h 14mins
  • Car Journey – 1h 22mins
  • Car/Bike Journey – 54mins


The quickest commute was the hybrid option of car/bike, largely down to the fact that the slowest part of the journey is in the city, where the bike took advantage of the bus and cycle lanes (have to say it is really satisfying cruising past traffic jams!!), whilst the car took advantage of the less congested roads leading into Belfast. 

However, being a bit of a bike advocate, it would be unfair not to point out the advantages of the bike commute over the other options…..

  • I saved approx. £10 on diesel by cycling over taking the car.  If I biked just twice a week, I could save around £1,000 a year….sounds like a good excuse to upgrade the bike next year!!!!
  • I’m a little bit healthier and fitter by cycling to work.
  • With the extra calories I burned on the bike, I can add an extra potato or two to my dinner, as well as, throw in a tasty dessert afterwards (scrub point 2 above!!).


Although this was a very basic test that will inevitably contain some anomalies, hopefully it will give you some food for thought.  You don’t have to suffer the congestion….just get on your bike :) :)