Can Motorcycles Solve Traffic Congestion Problems?

Motorcycle in TexasTraffic congestion, gridlock, call it whatever you want — it’s the same old problem that plagues the world’s major cities. In the U.S. alone, drivers spend billions of hours a year being stuck in traffic. 6.9 billion hours to be exact, according to data from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Just imagine what could have done with that much time not being wasted.

Various solutions have been proposed to try and solve this problem. This includes extended operation hours for public transit and mass transit modernization, among others. But some have a simple idea: why not just use motorcycles instead? Local bike shops like, including motorcycling enthusiasts, are likely to be elated.

A Different Perspective

Writing for the Australian online magazine Crikey, contributor Alan Davies presents how the traffic situation is like Down Under. In cities like Melbourne, over 70 percent of traffic is comprised of cars. This is followed by commercial vehicles and bicycles at just above 10 percent, and motorcycles at barely 1 percent.

Davies also brings up an interesting take by the Melbourne City Council. The MCC states that according to various studies, am 18-mile trip through downtown can be three times faster via motorcycle in peak hours. The argument here is simple: motorcycles take up far less road space and use relatively less fuel. There’s little to no chance of gridlocks if a bunch of motorcycles are out there.

Supporting Information

Another study, this time by the Belgian firm Transport & Mobility Leuven, supports this. Their results reveal that if motorcycles replaced 10 percent of all private vehicles in a specific area, there is a 40 percent decrease in time losses (and a 6 percent dip in emissions for good extra measure). Bump that figure up to 25 percent and traffic congestions will be practically non-existent.

Still, this proposal isn’t without contradictions — real-life ones, at that. Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in Vietnam has nearly five million motorcycles for 7.5 million people. It’s probably the most motorcycle-dependent metropolis in the world, and yet, gridlocks still exist.

Studies like the Belgian one, however, still offer hope. Wasting billions of hours every year just being stuck in traffic is unacceptable, especially in the fast-paced nature of modern society.