Why don’t we do things the easy way?

Today I nipped out to join Jane for lunch at Starbucks after she finished work (nice to get away from kids on school holiday).

I checked when I was locking up my bike, which I can park right outside Starbucks, and it had taken me exactly 5 minutes to get there. As I looked around it seemed that people were taking nearly that long to park. One person took several attempts to fit a Porsche Cayenne in a space before giving up and parking it diagonally across a space and access to the ramp for wheelchairs, pushchairs and bikes.

My estimate is that a very slow bike rider can comfortably get to Asda or Starbucks at the Thurmaston Shopping Centre in under 20 minutes including locking your bike up. That is for an absolute maximum distance of 2.5 miles (it is approximately 1 mile from Syston Station and I don’t think anywhere in Syston is anything like 1.5 miles from the station). 20 minutes means an average cycling speed of 7.5 mph if you live at the furthest part of Syston and less for everyone else.

If you drive it will take between 5 and 10 minutes (unless you get caught in a queue in Syston or at the Thurmaston roundabout which could easily double your journey time at peak periods). If you visit Asda and another shop you will probably have to park twice (or spend 5 minutes walking) and you will frequently have to hunt for a parking space.

I estimate that if you live in the parts of Syston furthest from Asda a car can at very most save you a total of 20 minutes. However, most times it will save you much less and sometimes (particularly on very busy days around bank holidays) it will take longer.

I estimate that if you visit Asda and another shop (in the other part of the shopping centre) a car will never save time over cycling. You will lose the gains in either finding 2 spaces or in walking between the two centres.

Obviously this is based on going to out of town shops with huge free car parks. If you drive to the more local shops then a car will almost always be slower than cycling from anywhere in Syston.

So why is it that we make life so much harder for ourselves?

Why don’t people choose the easy option?

  • It is often faster to cycle.
  • Here it will never take you more than an extra 20 minutes per shopping trip to cycle (for just a few people on quiet traffic days)
  • The car will cost you far more in fuel and other costs
  • If you drive you will need to get exercise at another time or be less healthy and probably die younger
Why do the Council not do anything to help people choose the easy option that is good for the community? (eg a decent cycle path)
Seems that only if we were addicted to something could we ignore the costs and miss the benefits of alternative solutions.
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