We all recognise that riding a bike is faster than walking, and even if you are walking fast and riding slowly, you will still be faster on a bike than on your legs – but how much faster is biking than walking, and how much more energy efficient is it?
Biking is at least twice as fast as walking, with an average walking speed of about three mph against an average biking speed of 7,5mph. It will take you less than half the time to ride anywhere than walk, plus the energy and effort required to bike the same distance will be much less.
While 7,5mph average speed on a bike is a very easy pace, walking at three mph or even four mph is a moderate walking pace. In comparison, 5-6mph would be considered ‘hoofing,’ but riding a bike is still faster, so let’s assume the energy required, time involved, and calories burned in biking vs. walking.
How Much Faster Is Biking Than Walking?
For this section, we will look at the time required when biking at different speeds against the time required to walk the same distance. Remember that you can achieve some very high speeds on a bike that you can never achieve on your legs, but we are not going to get into Tour De France speeds here.
For this example, we will look at distances of 5 and 10 miles and use a few different speeds on the bike and walking to compare the time taken to achieve the distance. The person’s weight does not matter when comparing speeds; it only comes into play when we look at burned calories – which we will do later.
How Much Faster Is Biking Than Walking Over 5 Miles?
For this example, we will use a set distance of 5 miles and use walking speeds of 3 mph, five mph, and six mph and biking speeds of 7,5mph, 10 mph, and 12mph, which would be considered easy pacing on a bike and would be considered the equivalent of ‘walking pace.’
You should also note that the distances here would be flat and not involve any hills or climbs, much like an average walk through town or around the neighborhood would be.
When walking 5 miles at a speed of 3mph, the time required to walk this distance would be one hour and 40 minutes. Increasing that speed to 5 mph would take you one hour, and at six mph would take about 50 minutes.
If you compare that with biking the same distance at 7,5mph, the time needed to complete 5 miles would be just 40 minutes. That time would be 30 minutes at ten mph, and at 12mph, the same distance would take just 25 minutes.
At the fastest walking speed and the fastest riding speed, the difference is a considerable 50%, so if you needed to cover that 5 miles in a hurry, you could do it in under half an hour on a bike, while the fastest time on foot would be 50 minutes.
If you consider that the average biking speed would be a minimum of 15mph, and at that speed, you would only need 20 minutes to ride 5 miles, and professional cyclists average 25mph and would cover 5 miles in just 12 minutes.
How Much Faster Is Biking Than Walking Over 10 Miles?
Five miles is an average distance, and it probably wouldn’t take too much effort to cover it, so let’s double that distance and make this a little more challenging. While it’s clear that biking is faster, how much quicker is it over longer distances?
Ten miles is a bit more challenging, and here is where biking is considerably faster than walking, even at average speeds. So let’s start with a slow pace on a bike at just 7,5mph – which is the equivalent of a leisurely Sunday morning walk!
At an average speed of 7,5 mph, a 10-mile ride would take about 80 minutes to complete. At ten mph, which is still a very easy pace, this distance would only take an hour to ride. At 12mph, this same distance would take just 50 minutes, and at 14 mph, 10 miles would take just 42 minutes!
If we compare that to walking at 3,5 mph, walking ten miles would take 2 hours and 51 minutes which is 90 minutes longer than biking at 7,5mph. If you increased your walking speed to 4mph, it would take 2 hours and 30 minutes which is still 1 hour and ten minutes longer than biking at 7,5mph.
If you bumped that walking speed to a pacy five mph, it would still take you two hours to walk 10 miles! At the fastest bike speed, that same distance would be covered in just 42 minutes which is an hour and eighteen minutes faster than walking!
Is Biking Faster Than Walking At Olympic Walking Pace?
To understand how much faster biking is than walking, we will compare the fastest walkers in the world –the athletes that compete in the Olympic Walk event. The average speed for men in this event is a blistering 9,6mph!
Over five miles, they would be able to cover that distance in 31 minutes and 10 miles in just over an hour or 62 minutes. This would be the equivalent of a ten mph bike pace, which we know is not very quick.
If we now compare that to the average speed of professional riders at around 25mph, they would cover ten miles in just 24 minutes! Those cyclists would have been off the bike for some 38 minutes and having a beer before the fastest pro-walker would cross that 10-mile finish line!
If you were riding that distance at an average of 14mph, you would still be 20 minutes faster over 10 miles than the average Olympic walker, and over 5 miles, you would be 10 minutes more quickly on a bike at just 21 minutes to cover that distance against the 31 minutes needed for an Olympic walker.
Even if you are an average cyclist, biking is much faster than walking, but how much energy would you use walking for 30 minutes compared to riding it?
How Many Calories Would You Burn Biking Vs. Walking?
These two exercises are a little closer together in this category, mostly because walking is a weight-bearing exercise. At the same time, cycling is less so – although you have the added weight of the bike, you also have wheels and gears that reduce the effects of gravity.
For this example, we will use a person weighing 150lbs to illustrate the differences in calories burned over 30 minutes of walking vs. biking. For walking, we will use speeds of 3,5 mph, 4 mph, and 4,5mph; for cycling, we will use speeds of 10mph, 12mph, and 14mph.
Walking at 3,5 mph, a 150lb person would burn around 154 calories in 30 minutes. At four mph, that would increase to 179 calories; at 4,5mph, that calorie count would be 250.
Biking at ten mph, a 150lb person would burn 240 calories. At 12 mph, that calorie count would increase to 285 calories; at 14 mph, a 150lb person would burn 379 calories. If we compare those numbers to calories burned when walking, you can see that you would burn more calories biking than walking.
At the lowest biking speed, you would only burn ten calories less than the fastest walking speed, and you probably wouldn’t be working too hard either! Walking for 30 minutes at 4,5mph would have you breathing reasonably hard, while riding at ten mph for the same time would be much less effort.
At a medium speed of 12mph, the difference in calories burned is almost 60% between biking and walking. At 285 calories vs. 179 calories, you would burn 106 more calories biking than walking. You would burn 50% more calories on the bike at the highest speed than on your feet.
At 14mph on a bike, you would burn 129 more calories than walking for 30 minutes at 4,5mph. So regardless of your riding speed, you will burn more calories riding for 30 minutes than if you were walking.
The Other Major Benefit Of Biking Vs. Walking
Aside from the speed and time benefits, biking has one more advantage over walking: the impact on the body. While walking does not experience the same degree of impact as running, cycling is a zero-impact exercise and is ideal for people that want to burn calories, get fit, or commute.
Of course, coming off the bike while riding will result in more severe injuries than falling over while walking, but if you aren’t flying along at 20mph, the likelihood of coming off the bike is remote. Where time is a critical element, biking is faster than walking.
Biking is significantly faster than walking in every scenario, and even at professional walking speeds, an average rider would be faster on a bike than on their feet. Biking is the better option for faster cover distances where time is a consideration or constraint.
Both exercises are good for you and will each burn calories, with biking burning more over the same time as walking. It’s conclusive from the data above that you move much faster on two wheels than you do on two feet.