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I started cycling a year ago and I have a favourite route for my time trial training since it is very hilly. However, I cycle on a major road (just outside town) and thus I like to cycle when it is less busy- both to avoid annoyances of having to come to a complete stop at roundabouts/traffic lights, as well as reducing the chances of getting clipped and in general being subjected to dangerous driving.

I live in the UK in a medium sized town, I believe around 120k~ people. So during rush hour, it's completely impossible to ride consistently anywhere. Since I am not a morning person, I have resided to cycling mostly in the evenings, around 8-9pm. But sometimes I would prefer cycling during the day so my question is the following:

What times of day do you usually find traffic most suitable for road cycling?

I realize that traffic varies, but there are still some general patterns that I wonder about: public holidays, Sundays, weekends in general, school-related traffic and so on.

  • Welcome to Bicycles @marts. I have to point out that this is such a local question that nobody except a local rider will be able to give definitive help. But there are reasons serious cyclists start at sparrow. One is traffic, the other is it's usually least windy. – andy256 Jun 9 '16 at 13:04
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    My instinct is to close as too localised - different schools/factories... have different chucking out times, you may have places with shift changeovers at odd times, etc. etc. I can only suggest getting out and testing it. And in some areas, late evening especially Fridays can mean drivers whose reactions may be dulled by drink or drunk passengers. – Chris H Jun 9 '16 at 13:05
  • Thank you for the welcome. I was worried about the narrowness of the question as well but I felt that any answer about traffic patterns in the UK could be relevant/helpful. I don't wish to know about patterns >just< in my local area as I believe there are more general ones that experienced cyclists perhaps apply when considering their cycling times. @Chris thank you for the notion of Friday nights. That's precisely the kind of response I was hoping for. – marts Jun 9 '16 at 13:14
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    You could try your route on something like Google Maps. You can set the 'departure time' and it will calculate the time it will take to complete, factoring in traffic. This may be a more manual process as you'll just have to keep changing the time and seeing how much the estimated time or traffic is changing (the times can be coloured green, yellow, or orange based on traffic). From there you can pick the departure time which seems the fastest. Not sure if this works for all areas but this works great around Toronto Canada. – Abubakr Jun 9 '16 at 13:26
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    @Abubakr the departure time option only exists for cars for me. While it may be useful in some cases, if you have bike paths for some of your route it will be close to useless. – Chris H Jun 9 '16 at 14:15
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For the UK there are traffic statistics available. This graph from the 2015 Road Traffic Estimates shows the general trend for cars.

traffic graph

There are detailed tables of traffic flow available.

There is also geographical data available in the form an interactive map. This isn't broken down by time of day, but should give you an indication of which roads generally carry more traffic.

If you're interested in when is the safest time to use the roads, there are statistics on road casualties by hour of day in this report (page 153 - Reported casualties by day, road user type and hour of day).

  • I'm going to take this opportunity to recommend that everyone take a casual ride at 2am. Riding a bike when there are no cars is amazing. Although, if you do see a car, and its headlights will give you a plenty of time to respond, it's best to get off the road entirely. Totally worth doing once. – Carl Jun 10 '16 at 3:40
  • this is amazing. I had absolutely no idea. many many thanks! – marts Jun 10 '16 at 17:46

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