The weather is pretty rough here in Boston, which is probably why Boston Biker wanted to clarify why it takes you so long to drive through the city. I actually haven’t seen any research on the effect of increased cycling on traffic time (my guess is it’s probably not very large in either direction), but the original post is pretty spot-on in response to some misplaced blame that goes around. I know slowing down for bikes makes it feel like your trip is taking longer, but I don’t think they are. In the US, we’re so used to automobile traffic that we hardly see it for what it is.
i keep in an informal count in my head of times when i’ve been beeped at for (i presume) slowing down a motorist. i think about 3/4ths of the time, i am not actually increasing the length of their trip, though i may be forcing them to keep or take their foot off the gas. what’s usually happens is that there is a red light, or a line of cars sitting at a red light, or just general traffic up ahead. they beep at me, speed around me, and then stop at a light that was red when they first beeped at me, and has still not changed. and then i ride past them on the right, which means even if they stayed behind me the whole time, they wouldn’t actually be losing time. On some commutes I find I may see the same cars for pretty much the entire time, meaning that our average speed (the amount of time it’s taking us to actually move through the city) is pretty much the same. it’s frustrating for drivers, because your car can go very fast, and you want your drive to feel like the car commercials you mention, but in an urban environment during rush hour, the timing of the lights, the number of other (especially motor) vehicles on the road, and the gridlock scenarios you describe (car halfway in the intersection) are basically what determines how far you get from point a to point b. unless you bend/break the law a bit, how quickly you accelerate and what your top speed is don’t actually have much bearing on trip time.
biking turns us into transportation geeks, and transportation geeks apparently love making long-ass blog comments on, uh, traffic. i really should get out more.