Positive impact of integration vs segregation & fragmentation

Today, as I rode through Watermead Park on my way back from Leicester I noticed more people out running than normal. It felt like quite a contrast between the positive impact of integration caused by riding a bike for transport compared to the segregation and fragmentation of life typified by going out for a run.

When you ride a bike for transport it integrates a whole range of things:

  • Cost savings through cheap transport. See Americans Work 3.84 Minutes Each Day To Pay For Their Bicycles and Americans Work 2 Hours Each Day To Pay For Their Cars. Note that if you can claim expenses for riding your bike for work it can work out to be completely free, as it would for me if I did have such expensive tastes in bikes :-)
  • A happier life. It is far more enjoyable to ride a bike than be stuck in traffic in a car. You get to use quieter roads, you can ride by canals and rivers and through parks.
  • A healthier life. Instead of becoming less healthy by sitting in a stressful environment (a car) you get beneficial exercise while getting from a-b. The statisticians seem to think you will now live longer.
  • More time. You gain time as you need to work fewer hours to pay for your transport (alternatively you can work the same hours and keep the extra money). You also gain time by not needing to take exercise separately from your transport (so the runners this evening have a triple loss – time stuck in a car, time spent running & time lost to earning to the cost of exercise and transport).
  • A higher quality of life for all. By riding a bike you have done a significant amount to reduce your negative impact on the lives of others (less pollution, less congestion, less oil used, less CO2 emissions). It would be expensive to find ways to achieve all these benefits for others if you had driven to work.

On the other hand driving for transport segregates and fragments your life:

  • Your transport time is wasted. It can give no side benefits, it is all cost to you
  • Your car means you  have to work longer to get the same standard of living as you have to pay for the car, fuel etc
  • Your transport does not contribute to your well-being and happiness. You will need to spend other time making up for the lost happiness.
  • Your transport makes you less healthy so you will need to invest time and money just to stay still in fitness.
  • Your transport actively damages the quality of life for others.
Seems an easy choice to me. A positive integrated solution (riding a bike) or a segmented and fragmented choice with high costs (money, time & personal) when you drive.
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11 Comments.

  1. Mrs Angry Runner of Birstall

    hey – what’s this picking on runners? :0)
    You’ll be pleased to hear that in this household we almost never make an extraneous car journey to go running. (OK – my trip to Bradgate was an exception – but Neil runs that from here.) It’s quite likely that a lot of the runners round Watermead ran from home. And running does have a pleasure in its own right you know – it’s not just something you have to do as compensation because you don’t cycle enough miles :o)

    • I wasn’t assuming they were driving to the run but that they had driven during the day and so their transport and exercise have got separated.

  2. But my point is that you wouldn’t say that about people going out to play football, or playing bowls. As a sport, running is pleasurable in itself….

  3. By the way – I agree with the main thrust of your argument

  4. Simon Kellett

    In general I agree with your post, except:

    > driving for transport…:
    > Your transport time is wasted….

    Not according to my observations whilst cycling to work: car time is used for: phoning and texting your mates, drinking coffee/other beverages, eating breakfast/lunch, and sometimes it seems also to be used for extra sleeping time.
    (I write to raise a laugh, but of course it is not really funny :-(

  5. Btw – I’ve just picked up the new Leicester cycle map from Cyclops. It’s great that it’s finally been produced and – even if it doesn’t show me any routes I don’t already know, at least I now know there are very few safe alternatives I’m missing.
    Two things that interest me:
    1) the map has concentric circles centred on the Town Hall saying “x minutes cycling at 6mph will take you this far”. This is, no doubt, to promote cycling as a swift and efficient means of transport. However it’s totally unrealistic. As far as I can see it’s simply an “as the crow flies” distance with no allowance for junctions, traffic lights etc. For instance I’m supposed to be able to get from Town to home in under 15 minutes at 6mph. I can just do it in 22 minutes but cycling a lot faster than that!
    2) I’m curious to see that the map marks 4 pelican crossings at the infamous junction of Troon Way and the Melton Road. Is this right? (I’ve probably missed something, but I don’t remember there being crossing lights there)

    • I picked up a full set of 6 maps at the bike park this afternoon.

      You are right the junction of Melton Road & Troon Way is not accurate. There are no safe crossings here for cyclists or pedestrians

  6. While your assumption is probably generally correct, I do know people who don’t drive at all (at least one because they can’t) yet regularly, daily even, go for a run, including a couple of marathon runners. Some of them also cycle, a little or a lot. Personally I cycle most of the time because running is, for me, boring and where I live driving is generally pointless. I get the drift of your argument, and agree, but if you don’t drive and you spend your entire time walking and running, you don’t even have the cost of the bike to worry about, which I’d consider if cycling weren’t so much more interesting and fun :)

    • I promise never to be sarcastic about runners again.

      It is the separation of transport from human power and the separation of exercise and transport that I am frustrated with. Both separations cause us huge costs (personally and societally).

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