Cycling speed variation: a multilevel model of characteristics of cyclists, trips and route tracking points

Hong Yan*, Kees Maat, Bert van Wee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Smooth cycling can improve the competitiveness of bicycles. Understanding cycling speed variation during a trip reveals the infrastructure or situations which promote or prevent smooth cycling. However, research on this topic is still limited. This study analyses speed variation based on data collected in the Netherlands, using GPS-based devices, continuously recording geographical positions and thus the variation in speeds during trips. Linking GPS data to spatial data sources adds features that vary during the trip. Multilevel mixed-effects models were estimated to test the influence of factors at cyclist, trip and tracking point levels. Results show that individuals who prefer a high speed have a higher average personal speed. Longer trips and trips made by conventional electric bicycles and sport bicycles have a higher average trip speed. Tracking point level variables explain intra-trip cycling speed variations. Light-medium precipitation and tailwind increase cycling speed, while both uphill and downhill cycling is relatively slow. Cycling in natural and industrial areas is relatively fast. Intersections, turns and their adjacent roads decrease cycling speed. The higher the speed, the stronger the influence of infrastructure on speed. Separate bicycle infrastructure, such as bike tracks, streets and lanes, increase speed. These findings are useful in the areas of cycling safety, mode choice models and bicycle accessibility analysis. Furthermore, these findings provide additional evidence for smooth cycling infrastructure construction.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Cycling speed
  • Infrastructure
  • Inter/intra-person variation
  • Intra-trip variation
  • Land use
  • Multilevel mixed-effects model


Dive into the research topics of 'Cycling speed variation: a multilevel model of characteristics of cyclists, trips and route tracking points'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this