I debated whether to title this post “Civilising the day”. Today is a good example for me of how cycling as transport makes better connections for the day. With three different places to be during the day it would have been possible to use the car but so much less efficient.
First stop a staff meeting, sadly still at the unholy time of 9am on Monday morning, I am still wondering how my Superintendent wrangled that one past me 🙂 This week in Birstall, so my turn to travel. As I gently pootled out of Syston, I thought this is not so bad, as I overtook about 15 cars in a queue for the Thurmaston roundabout. Slightly nicer, I thought, as I gently bounced along the Melton Road through Thurmaston village centre (lots of speed bumps and poor road surface). Even laughed to myself at the car that just had to overtake me just as they reached a set of speed cushions where they had to brake hard while still nearly breaking their suspension (not to mention the discomfort of moving your breakfast up and down that viciously – ugh!). Then very nice I thought during the lovely ride across the top of the southern part of Watermead Park, just enjoying it and not sparing a thought for the frustration in the cars queuing up to and through the junction with the Melton Road and Troon Way.
After the staff meeting my next appointment is at the Royal Infirmary for a pre med check up (I am having a wisdom tooth removed next month). The appointment letter reminds me to allow 30minutes to park my car. So instead I continue from Birstall, drop my bike at the Bike Park in Leicester and retire to Starbucks for some lunch (cheaper than the car park and diesel?) and to catchup on some paperwork (with a bit of time for blogging). From here I can make my way to the Royal Infirmary without any queuing or problems parking.
Then on my way home I can pop in to visit someone.
How would this have been by car?
Firstly, I would have to leave home at least 5 minutes earlier to get to the staff meeting (traffic and a much less direct route) and I would not have had the gentle wake up on the way.
Secondly, I would have had to choose between going home for a short while before the appointment at the Royal (which would have meant an extra 15 miles of driving) or coming into Leicester and paying for another car park.
Thirdly, I would lose all that time queuing to get into the Royal Infirmary car park (and paying for the privilege).
Visiting someone on the way home would be easy enough but given how close it is to home I would probably go home, leave the car there and walk. That is good for me but much slower than calling in by bike on the way home.
When your work, like mine, involves moving around between lots of places during the day all in a relatively small area (for me about 8 miles across) a bike is so much faster and more convenient than car that even ignoring the financial, health and environmental costs I don’t know why anyone would choose to drive.
Of course the fact that I can enjoy chocolate Yule log at Starbucks for lunch without guilt or worries about what the scale will say in the morning is just another added bonus 🙂
I am wondering how many miles this way of working is suitable for. Obviously the worse the congestion the more miles you can cycle and still be quicker than the car. Also as you get fitter the more miles you can cycle without affecting your work. For me I think I am up to about 20 or 25 miles per day on my Bullitt. This week I will have three days at around 20 miles and the others a bit shorter (say 5 to 15 miles). So I guess about 80 work miles in total. Clearly there has been some conditioning over the past 3 months as in the past 80 miles in a week would have sounded a lot, now it is just about connecting the day in gentle and civilised ways.