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Again, motorcycles are the fastest way of urban transport

Volunteers from FEMA members and FMI repeated the European Mobility Test that was done in 2014. This year the mobility test was held in 7 countries and 14 cities all over Europe.

With cars, motorcycles, mopeds, speed-pedelecs, e-bikes, conventional bicycles and public transport a route from a place outside a city to an office inside the city was followed. The tests were performed between May and September 2017. during the morning rush hour between 07.00h and 09.00h with one exception, where the test was performed in the afternoon, starting at 17.15h. The distances ranged from 9 to 33 kilometres, with an average of 16.5 kilometres. As we saw in 2014. in all situations except two, the motorcycle was the fastest mode to commute into the city with the moped as number two.

Already over 70% of the European citizens live in urban areas and the number is expected to increase to over 80% in the next decades. This means that congestion, parking problems and air quality will be a growing problem in the future. Many commuters still prefer to travel in their cars and spend much time in traffic jams and looking for parking spaces. Public transport, walking and cycling are promoted by the European Union, national governments and local councils as the preferable alternative. This is mostly a result of the environmental effects of cars, especially cars that run on diesel fuel, in the cities. The effects of a switch from car to other modes of transport on the time the commuter will lose or gain with, it is never part of the discussion.

FEMA wanted to see if motorcycles and other powered two-wheelers can provide at least part of the solution. In thirteen of the fourteen tests the motorcycle was the fasted transport mode. Only in Annecy the two motorcycles needed more time than the car. One because the rider had taken a shorter – but not faster – way. The other motorcycle had taken the same way as the car. On average the journeys took 30% more time with the cars than with the motorcycles. The 45 km/h mopeds came second, close to the motorcycles, they needed on average 28% more time, partly because of the shortcuts the mopeds sometimes could take. The cars, speed-pedelecs and bicycles came close together. Far behind came the 25 km/h moped and the combination public transport and walking. Typical commute travels by motorcycle take on average 53% less time than with public transport, which is really the big loser in this test.

Results per country:

Belgium – The Belgian team from the Motorcycle Action Group Belgium started on Tuesday, June 20th at 08.00h from the Beervelde church near Ghent. The end goal was the new Palace of Justice in the Opgeëistenlaan in Ghent. The team used two motorcycles, that took different way to the end goal: one took the slightly longer motorway (17.4 km), the other went through the slightly shorter local way (16.9 km). A car that also took the motorway, a bicycle that was able to take the shortest route (13 km) and one tester used public transport. Traffic was quiet, probably due to the hot weather that prevented some people to work and the absence of students. In rush hour, although there is no direct line, the waiting times during a transfer are shorter than outside the rush hour.

The motorcyclist that used the motorway was the fastest, he only needed 20 minutes. He was followed by the car driver and the second motorcyclist. Then with some distance the bicyclist arrived. The tester that came by public transport needed considerably more time: over four times the time the first motorcyclist needed. This turned out to be the largest difference in the whole test.

The motorcyclists and the bicyclist could park their bikes near the building. Both the car driver and the user of public transport had to walk some distance and the car driver had to pay € 1,50 for his parking space for a short time. This makes commuting by car the most expensive mode. Public transport for this route costs only € 2, which makes it attractive from a financial point of view.

  Transport mode time distance
1 Motorcycle via motorway 20 minutes 17.4 km
2 Car via motorway 26 minutes 17.4 km
3 Motorcycle local road 28 minutes 16.9 km
4 Bicycle 39 minutes 13 km
5 Public transport 83 minutes  


Finland – The Finnish team from SMOTO started at the moment the traffic jams are at its worst, 07.00h on Tuesday morning May, 23rd 2017. Test vehicles were a car, an electric motorcycle, a motorcycle with internal combustion engine, a scooter (moped), an e-bike (25 km/h) and public transport (bus). All vehicles used the same way from start to end goal.

All two-wheelers needed more or less the same time to get to the end goal: 28 minutes. The car needed six minutes more and the tester that used public transport needed 40 minutes. The Finnish FEMA member SMOTO remarks that parking a motorcycle on the pavement without disturbing pedestrians, as is common in many European countries, is not allowed and dedicated two-wheeler parking spaces are too scarce.

  Transport mode time distance
1 Electric motorcycle 28 minutes 12 km
2 Motorcycle 28 minutes 12 km
3 Scooter (45 km/h moped) 28 minutes 12 km
4 Pedelec (25 km/h) 28 minutes 12 km
5 Car 34 minutes 12 km
6 Public transport 40 minutes 12 km


France – In France seven teams from FFMC participated in the test.

Annecy: A team of eight testers started the first of June between 07.50h and 09.30h with 10 minutes intermittent from the bourg Saint-Jorioz. Time and place were chosen to reflect the real situation of commuting as much as possible. The vehicles were a classical bicycle, an e-bike, a 25 km/h restricted scooter, a 45 km/h restricted scooter, two motorcycles and a car. Beside this one tester used public transport. End goal was Glaisins in the business park of Annecy-le-Vieux. The length of the route is 15 kilometers. Before the end goal the cyclist had to negotiate a climb of 110 meters, which is something to consider: a cyclist who uses this way to commute will need a facility to shower. The traffic was quiet compared to normal.

The motorcyclists took different routes, which for one of them turned out to be a mistake. Rather surprisingly, as a result of little traffic at the time of the test, the car needed the least time – 28 minutes – to reach the Glaissins, followed after two minutes by the motorcycle that used the same route. The first moped scooters also needed 30 minutes, the second needed four more. The second motorcycle followed with 36 minutes travelling time. The bicycles came next and public transport turned out to be the slowest way to commute to Les Glaisins.

Due to the nature of the end goal the car met no problems with parking. Beside the normal running costs there were no other costs. Public transport cost € 1,50.

  Transport mode time distance
1 Car 28 minutes 15 km
2 Motorcycle 1 30 minutes 15 km
3 Moped 1 30 minutes 15 km
4 Moped 2 34 minutes 15 km
5 Motorcycle 2 36 minutes 24 km
6 E-bike 40 minutes 15 km
7 Bicycle 48 minutes 15 km
8 Public transport 70 minutes  

Avignon: In the morning of May, 26th, a team of four FFMC volunteers started in Agroparc, the technopolis in the outskirts of Avignon to the town hall in the centre of Avignon, a route of nine kilometers. The test was performed with a car, a motorcycle, a bicycle and public transport.

The motorcycle needed less than half the time of the car: 17 against 40 minutes. One of the reasons was the time the car driver needed to find a parking space. The bicycle needed 9 minutes less than the car and public transport again was the slowest mode: 45 minutes.

In costs the car turned out to be most expensive, because of the € 2 parking costs on top of the normal running costs. Public transport cost € 1,40.

  Transport mode time distance
1 Motorcycle 17 minutes 9 km
2 Car 40 minutes 9 km
3 Bicycle 31 minutes 9 km
4 Public transport 45 minutes  

Bordeaux: The testers in Bordeaux were the only ones who choose to do the test during the afternoon rush hour. On the 23rd of May on 17.15h they started from the FFMC office in the centre of Bordeaux to the end goal, the town hall in Blanquefort, a journey of 11 kilometers. Traffic was heavy

The motorcycle was the first and arrived after 23 minutes, shortly followed by the moped (24 minutes). Next was the bicyclist, who needed 29 minutes, two minutes less than the car. Public transport took almost twice as much time, 60 minutes.

Next to the normal running costs there were no extra costs. Public transport cost € 1,50.

  Transport mode time distance
1 Motorcycle 23 minutes 11 km
2 Moped 24 minutes 11 km
3 Bicycle 29 minutes 11 km
4 Car 31 minutes 11 km
5 Public transport 60 minutes  

Metz: Here too a team of five people started early in the morning at 7:05h on a 17 kilometers long journey from Hagondange, one of the outskirts of Metz, to the Prefecture in Metz In this test no moped was involved, but two testers used public transport. The traffic was heavy.

The motorcycle turned out to be by far the fastest mode. It needed 16 minutes for this journey. Next came the car with 27 minutes, then the bicyclist who needed 40 minutes. Shortly after the bicyclist the first tester who used public transport arrived. The second tester who used public transport needed a quarter of an hour more: 57 minutes.

He also spent much more money. The journey cost him € 4,90, while the other public transport user only paid € 1,12. The highest costs where for the car € 6,22. This is probably due to high parking costs in Metz.

  Transport mode time distance
1 Motorcycle 16 minutes 17 km
2 Car 27 minutes 17 km
3 Bicycle 40 minutes 17 km
4 Public transport 1 42 minutes  
5 Public transport 2 57 minutes  

Orleans: A team of four testers started on the 19th of May at 09:00h from le rue de l’Ardoux, Olivet, a residential area south of Orleans, to the Musée des beaux arts, rue Paul Belmondo, in the centre of Orléans. The distance between these locations is 9 kilometres and the traffic was not too heavy.

The motorcycle needed 12 minutes for the journey and had to wait 17 minutes before the car arrived. The tester of public transport had used the tram and needed 37 minutes for the whole trip. The bicyclist needed one minute more.

The bicycle of course had no running costs. For the motorcyclist and car driver it is almost equal if only the fuel costs are considered. The car driver also has to pay a parking fee of € 2 per hour. The cost of public transport was € 1,70.

  Transport mode time distance
1 Motorcycle 12 minutes 9 km
2 Car 29 minutes 9 km
3 Public transport 37 minutes  
4 Bicycle 38 minutes 9 km

Paris: In Paris the test was performed with a car, a motorcycle and public transport. In the morning of the 29th of May, at 08.00h the testers departed from the town hall of Pontault Combault, east of Paris, to the Place de l’hotel de ville de Paris, in the very centre of Paris. A journey of 29 kilometres in average heavy traffic.

The motorcycle needed only 40 minutes for this distance, the car and public transport needed considerably more with 73 and 77 minutes.

The team obviously did not consider parking when calculating the costs, and calculated € 3 for the motorcycle, € 3,55 for the car and € 1,90 for public transport.

  Transport mode time distance
1 Motorcycle 40 minutes 29 km
2 Car 73 minutes 29 km
3 Public transport 77 minutes  

Rouen: A team of seven testers left on the 8th of June at 07.28h from the parking place of the Bibliothèque Mathilde Rouvres at the Plce Sadi Carnot in the outskirts of Rouen for an eight to ten kilometres long journey to Place Général de Gaulle in the centre of Rouen. Time and route were chosen to reflect the normal situation for commuters as much as possible. The difference in length of the journey is due to the route that has been taken. The test vehicles where a car, three motorcycles (1000, 600 and 125 cc), a moped, two bicycles and one person use public transport. The traffic situation was average.

The 125 and 600 cc motorcycles, the moped and the car took the same route and needed almost the same time (motorcycles 18 minutes, moped 21 minutes, car 26 minutes). The extra time for the car is the time needed to find a place in the parking garage. The larger motorcycle took an alternative route and was confronted with road works. The bicycles choose to take a cycle lane along the Seine for reasons of safety and comfort. A shorter route and less time would be possible if they were allowed to use the bus lane. This is currently controversial. The testers were surprised with the time it took to walk and use public transport, because of the dedicated bus lanes that should allow the bus to use less time.

The calculated costs range from € 0 for the bicyclists to € 1,50 for public transport and € 2 for the car. This includes 15 minutes parking time. For the powered two-wheelers the costs range from € 0,20 for the moped to € 0,60 for the two heaviest motorcycles. The test team concludes that since larger motorcycles, due to speed limits and traffic lights, are not faster than smaller motorcycles, a small motorcycle is the preferable mode of transport for commuting.

  Transport mode time distance
1 Motorcycle 125 cc 18 minutes 8.5 km
2 Motorcycle 600 cc 18 minutes 8.5 km
3 Moped 21 minutes 8.5 km
4 Motorcycle 1000 cc 26 minutes 10 km
5 Car 27 minutes 8.5 km
6 Bicycle 1 28 minutes 10 km
7 Bicycle 2 28 minutes 10 km
8 Public transport 39 minutes 8.5 km


Italy – In Italy volunteers from FIM member FMI participated in the test.

Bologna: On Friday, the 22nd September, at 08.30h in the morning, five FMI’s safety instructors, with a motorbike, a scooter, a bicycle, a car and the last one by public transport, started from Via Pietro da Coubertin in Bologna. Their final destination was Via V. Peglion 25. where is situated the High School “A.Serpieri”, a journey of 11.5 kilometres. Traffic in Bologna in this area is congested during working days.

The moped rider was first to arrive in 26 minutes, which means an average speed of 26.5 km/h. She was followed one minute later by the motorcyclist, who had an average speed of 25.5 km/h. The car driver arrived 14 minutes after that, which means he had an average speed of only 16.8 km/h. The user of public transport, who had to use two busses, needed 60 minutes and the bicyclist needed most time, 87 minutes, which brings his average speed on 8.7 km/h. The results show clearly how convenient it is to move by powered two-wheelers in Bologna, which develops from the centre in an external diameter of 20 kilometres, surrounded by traffic-jammed boulevards, especially on working days. The extra cost, next to normal running costs for the car where € 2.50 per hour parking fee. The bus ticket cost € 1.50.

  Transport mode time distance
1 Moped 45 km/h 26 minutes 11.5 km
2 Motorcycle 27 minutes 11.5 km
3 Car 41 minutes 11.5 km
4 Public transport 60 minutes 11.5 km
5 Bicycle 87 minutes 11.5 km


Florence: Four FMI instructors started the mobility test in the beautiful city of Florence at 08.00h on Monday, October the 2nd 2017, in the middle of morning traffic jam, at school time. Test vehicles were a motorcycle, a moped, a car and public transport (tram and bus). All vehicles used the same itinerary from start (Scandicci) to end (Settignano, piazza N. Tommaseo). The city center is closed to vehicles with a big ZTL (low emission zone) where only pedestrians are allowed.

The motorcyclist needed 36 minutes and the moped rider 38 minutes to cover the way of 14,5 km. The car driver needed 46 minutes, while the instructor with public transport needed one hour and 4 minutes. Here too, the testers concluded that riding is the best way of transport in their city. Parking spaces are free for powered two-wheelers, while for cars they cost from 1.60 to 2 euros per hour. The bus ticket costs 1,20 euros.

  Transport mode time distance
1 Motorcycle 36 minutes 14.5 km
2 Moped 45 km/h 38 minutes 14.5 km
3 Car 46 minutes 14.5 km
4 Public transport 64 minutes 14.5 km


Netherlands – On Tuesday, the 29th of August at 08.00h seven testers departed from a home in Purmerend to the office of RAI Vereniging in Amsterdam. These locations where chosen because many commuters live in Purmerend and work in Amsterdam; the RAI Vereniging is located in an area with many offices. Due to the mode of transport, the distance ranged from 21 to 27.3 kilometres. The traffic situation was fairly representative: the holidays were not completely over yet and there was some delay because of a broken car. To make the test really fair and representative the riders on the powered two-wheelers put on their protective gear at 08.00h, while the others were already on their way.

The first to arrive in Amsterdam was the motorcyclist, who needed 43 minutes. He was followed in 5 minutes by the car driver. Surprisingly third to arrive was the speed-pedelecist, even more so because his route was 3 kilometres longer than that of number four, the 45 km/h moped rider, who needed 66 minutes. The 25 km/h moped rider needed 71 minutes and the tester that took public transport arrived one minute later. Last was the bicyclist, who needed 81 minutes.

  Transport mode time distance
1 Motorcycle 43 minutes 27.3 km
2 Car 48 minutes 27.3 km
3 Speed-pedelec 59 minutes 23.9 km
4 Moped 45 km/h 66 minutes 21 km
5 Moped 25 km/h 71 minutes 21 km
6 Public transport 72 minutes 24.8 km
7 Bicycle 81 minutes 22 km


Norway – On Thursday, the 31st of August 2017 at 07.00h the testers from NMCU started from the Kolbotn gas station in the municipality Oppegård just south of Oslo. Their goal was another gas station at Bryn in Oslo, 14 to 18.3 kilometres away, depending on the way of transport. Kolbotn is in a residential area and around Bryn are many large companies, schools and shops. The motorway between Kolbotn and Oslo is busy with on most days many traffic jams. On the test day traffic varied from light on the motorway to slow in the city.

The motorcyclist was the first to arrive. He needed 19 minutes for the journey, only two minutes less than the moped rider who had taken the slower but shorter route using local roads through the suburban areas. Ten minutes after the motorcyclist the bicyclist arrived. He had needed 29 minutes for his journey. Three minutes later the car driver pulled in. the tester who had used public transport needed the most time, 51 minutes, which means that he needed at least half an hour more than the powered two-wheelers.

Besides the normal running costs of the powered vehicles and the depreciation, the toll costs for the car were € 3,80. The powered two-wheelers don’t have to pay toll. The public transport cost € 5,70. However it should be noted that these cost will be far lower when one buys a monthly card.

  Transport mode time distance
1 Motorcycle 19 minutes 18.3 km
2 Moped 45 km/h 21 minutes 14 km
3 Bicycle 29 minutes 14 km
4 Car 32 minutes 18.3 km
5 Public transport (train, metro) 51 minutes  


Sweden – On Monday morning 19th June five members of SMC started from a parking space in Vallentuna. It is a big suburb between Stockholm and Arlanda Airport with a population of 32,000. It is a typical town where many inhabitants travel to Stockholm city to work. There are two major public transport modes: bus or Roslagsbanan – a small railway. The motorway E18 passes Vallentuna. The distance from Vallentuna – Stockholm city is about 30 km.

The motorcyclist arrived first at the meeting point in Stockholm. He needed 42 minutes for his journey. On the motorway E18 he was allowed to use the bus lane. Also in Stockholm he didn’t get stuck in traffic jams. Next came the tester that used public transport. He used bus and metro and didn’t lose much time with his connections. He was also helped by the situation that the bus from Vallentuna could use the bus lane on theE18. Still he needed 25 minutes more than the motorcyclist. The third tester to arrive was the rider of the 45 km/h moped. He had used secondary roads alongside the motorway. This meant that he had to travel a few more kilometres, but because he also was able to keep riding he made good time. After him came the rider of the 25 km/h moped, who needed 76 minutes. By being able to use the bicycle lanes he travelled less kilometres than the others. One minute after him came the car driver, who had needed the most time with 77 minutes. This would have been even more if the driver had taken the E18, where she would have been confronted with a 18 kilometer queue. Instead she had used an app that had guided her to a faster way.

Next to the normal running costs for the powered two-wheelers and the car the last one also cost € 6,15 congestion fee and € 45/day or € 410/month to park. Parking is still free for powered two-wheelers in Stockholm but that is going to change. If the court settles the current dispute in favour of the city council, motorcyclists and riders of 45 km/h mopeds will have to pay € 10/day. Another change for motorcycles is that they are no longer allowed to use some of the bus lanes.

  Transport mode time distance
1 Motorcycle 42 minutes 30 km
2 Public transport 67 minutes  
3 Moped 45 km/h 69.5 minutes 33 km
4 Moped 25 km/h 76 minutes 29 km
5 Car 77 minutes 31.3 km

Powered two-wheelers, especially motorcycles are still by far the fastest way to commute to the city. Other modes like car, 45 km/h moped, bicycle needed in the test on average the same time, which was almost 1.5 as much as the motorcycle. The speed-pedelec and the 25 km/h moped needed in the test some more time and public transport is the slowest way to get into town. With public transport the commuter needs almost twice the time he needs when using the motorcycle. In terms of costs the car is by far the most expensive.

‘Speed and costs are not the only aspects to consider’

Next to the normal running costs of depreciation, taxes, insurance, maintenance, fuel et cetera, the car driver also has to pay dearly to park his car and in some occasions he has to pay a congestion fee. The costs for public transport differ very much from city to city. In some occasions public transport is, after cycling and moped riding, the most economical choice, but not always. Speed and financial costs are not the only aspects to consider. The exhaust of greenhouse gasses, toxic gasses, particle matters reach values that are no longer considered to be acceptable.

‘We still see the need for personal motorized transport’

For this reason, authorities try to have the car driver to switch to public transport, cycling and walking. Although we understand and support the transition from cars to more economical and environmental friendly ways of transport, we still see the need for personal motorized transport, especially for journeys into or out of cities. Public transport often provides a limited solution in these situations.

‘Powered two-wheelers prove to be a solution for congestion problems’

As our test proves, public transport and cycling take much time, cars get stuck in traffic and cost much room, and as a result much money for the driver, to park. Powered two-wheelers prove to be a solution for congestion problems. Because they do not stand still and do not need to ride around in search for a parking space. According to a study from US data processing company Inrix, drivers in the UK spend on average 44 hours per year searching for parking space. For most people this is more than a full working week.

‘Powered two-wheelers need considerably less space than cars’

German parking management company Apcoa calculated that in Germany car drivers spend on average 10 minutes (or 4.5 kilometres) to find a parking space, in Italy even 15 minutes. Each search comes with an environmental impact of 1.3 kg CO2. Approximately 30 per cent of the total CO2 emissions produced from locating a parking space is due to the increasing number of vehicles trying to park in congested city centres. Parking is a real problem, also from an environmental view and powered two-wheelers need considerably less space than cars. Also from this point of view.

And again, illustrated by the results of the FEMA European Mobility Test 2017, motorcycles and other powered two-wheelers are part of the solution.