Chart of the Day: Kinetic Energy of Bicycles versus Cars

Via the Twitter feed of Juan Melli, a resident of New Jersey, here is a chart showing the kinetic energy (i.e. energy generated because of motion) of a bicycle going 20 miles per hour versus a car going 30 miles per hour.

It’s a pretty one-sided chart:

Melli writes that:

Kinetic energy that would hit a person by a 20 mph bike (🤕) vs 30 mph car (☠️) and why ‘equal’ enforcement of cars, bikes, and peds is an allocation of resources that ignores the risk profile & doesn’t maximize safety/minimize the death rate (Chart credit: )

Of course, most cars are not traveling at 30 miles per hour much of the time, and people riding bicycles travel slower than 20 most of the time, so this chart is most often even more imbalanced.

The point, for me, is that narrative “equivalence” of bicycles and automobiles as dangers, threats, or causes of safety problems in our cities is not an accurate picture of the physical reality of the vast majority of situations.

Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.