InterJournal Complex Systems, 3118
Status: Submitted
Manuscript Number: [3118]
Submission Date: 120517
The complex dynamics of bicycle pelotons
Author(s): Anonymous

Subject(s): CX.1.11, CX.1.13, CX.1.14, CX.1.17, CX.1.19, CX.4.43, CX.4.44

Category: Report


A peloton may be defined as two or more cyclists riding in sufficiently close proximity to be located either in one of two basic positions: 1) behind cyclists in zones of reduced air pressure, referred to as ‘drafting’, or 2) in zones of highest air pressure, described here alternately as ‘riding at the front’, ‘in the wind’, or in ‘non-drafting positions’. Cyclists in drafting zones expend less energy than in front positions. Two broad models of peloton dynamics are explored. The first is an energetic model that describes peloton dynamics that oscillate through observable phase states as they emerge from collision avoidance and riders’ coupled energy outputs. These phases exhibit behavioural characteristics such as convection patterns and synchronization, among others. Under the second, economic model, we discuss some basic parameters of the peloton as a system of economic exchange, and identify the resources within a peloton for which riders compete and cooperate. These include the energy savings of drafting, a near-front positional resource, and an information resource.

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