traffic
Pixabay
  • The average car commuter in Johannesburg loses 119 hours a year to traffic. 
  • Google wants to change this with its new two-wheel mode built into its Maps application. 
  • In other congested cities, there’s a growing trend of people choosing to weave through traffic on their two-wheelers, rather than sit stuck in a car.
  • For more, visit Business Insider South Africa.

Residents in South Africa’s most congested cities spend a lot of time in their cars.

Cape Town car owners spend as many as seven days a year sitting in traffic. And according to the INRIX 2018 Global Traffic Scorecard, the average car commuter in Johannesburg - the country’s most congested city - loses 119 hours a year to traffic. 

Google wants to change this with its new two-wheel mode built into the Google Maps application, which has just gone live for users in South Africa. This country has seen a marked increase in scooter and motorcycle users in recent years, due primarily to the rise of delivery companies like Uber Eats and Mr D using this as their primary mode of transport.

Google says this new feature, which launched in India last year, is a response to the “changing needs of people living in rapidly growing global communities”. India is the largest market for two-wheel transportation in the world, and throughout Asia and in many parts of Africa, cheap bikes and scooters are the go-to mode of transport. 

In other congested cities, there’s a growing trend of people choosing to weave through traffic on their two-wheelers, rather than sit in a car.

The main aim of the app addition is to showcase the quickest routes between two points for motorcycle users. It also has several other features that will make it safer to navigate city roads while on a motorbike or scooter, including bike-specific voice navigation, suggested shortcuts not accessible to cars, the ability to add custom routes, and the use of visible landmarks, rather than street names, to aid orientation. 

One of the other nifty features of the new Maps app is that it allows you to compare commute lengths at different times of the day - and to compare the length on a bike versus in a car. But to get there you’ll have to do a bit of manoeuvring in the app.

To give this a try, you’ll need the latest version of Google Maps, available on iOS and Android.

traffic
Andrew Thompson, Business Insider


Input your destination - and then tap ‘Directions’ in the bottom left corner. 

traffic
Andrew Thompson, Business Insider

At this stage, you can also change your starting point to something other than your current location - just tap the ‘Your Location’ box on the top of your screen.


Select the motorcycle icon next to the car. 

traffic
Andrew Thompson, Business Insider

The default results reflect the commute length if you left immediately. But to find out your commute length at a different time of the day - say rush hour - tap the three little dots on the top right of the screen.


Then tap ‘Set a reminder to leave’.

traffic
Andrew Thompson, Business Insider

You will be presented with an option to set departure or arrival time, as well as a little caption that details how long your ride will take. Deduct your departure time from your arrival time, and you have the full length of your commute.

Outside of rush hour, Google Maps predicts similar times for both motorcycles and cars. But during rush hour the time difference is significant. 

In order to see how much time you might save by riding a motorcycle, Business Insider South Africa compared Google Maps’ estimated commute lengths of usually hellish rush-hour journeys in Johannesburg and Cape Town. This is what we found.

Johannesburg

Dainfern to Sandton at 7:45AM: 26 minutes saved

Car commute: 55 minutes

Motorbike commute: 29 minutes


Sandton to Dainfern at 5:00PM: 7 minutes saved

Car commute: 35 minutes

Motorbike commute: 28 minutes

Midrand to Sandton at 7:30AM: 16 minutes saved

Car commute: 40 minutes

Motorbike commute: 24 minutes


Sandton to Midrand at 5:00PM: 10 minutes saved

Car commute: 40 minutes

Motorbike commute: 30 minutes

Time saved: 10 minutes

Gillooly’s to Sandton at 7:30AM: 17 minutes saved

Car commute: 40 minutes

Motorbike commute: 23 minutes

Sandton to Gillooly’s at 5:00PM: 15 minutes saved

Car commute: 40 minutes

Motorbike: 25 minutes


Cape Town

Blouberg to Cape Town CBD at 7:30AM: 26 minutes saved

Car commute: 50 minutes

Motorbike commute: 24 minutes

Cape Town CBD to Blouberg at 5:00PM: 27 minutes saved

Car commute: 50 minutes

Motorbike commute: 23 minutes

Rondebosch to Cape Town CBD at 7:30AM: 4 minutes saved

Car commute: 16 minutes

Motorbike commute: 12 minutes

Cape Town CBD to Rondebosch at 5:00PM: 22 minutes saved

Car commute: 35 minutes

Motorbike commute: 13 minutes

Plattekloof to Cape Town CBD at 7:30AM: 23 minutes saved

Car commute: 45 minutes

Motorbike commute: 22 minutes


Cape Town CBD to Plattekloof at 5:00PM: 16 minutes saved

Car commute: 40 minutes

Motorbike commute: 24 minutes

Using the above examples, riders commuting between Dainfern and Sandton will save two and a half hours per week. Assuming an annual commute takes place over 50 five-day work weeks, this mode of transport could save almost 6 days a year of sitting in traffic.

Cape Town motorcyclists fare even better. They save four and a half hours per week, and around 9 days a year.

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