Personal Travel Zones

I’ve been thinking a little about this over the last couple of weeks. Trying to reconcile my driving with my cycling, walking, and use of public transport, that is.

So here’s my problem. My parents & sister live some 350 miles from here. Wife’s sister in Wales is 400 miles each way, and Wife’s parents are 1,000 miles away. So we clock up a fair few ‘love miles’ before we even start doing things like driving to the supermarket, or to work, or wherever.

Since December 14th last year, I’ve driven 11,400 miles, which looks like totalling up to somewhere around 13,600 miles for the year.

That’s a lot of miles. So I need a plan to reduce it.

Now I’m working on the longer distance journeys, but to be honest with you, the teleportation system I’ve been putting together in my workshop isn’t yet ready for commercial use. That problem with the flies is a nightmare.

No. The place to focus is that majority of car miles that could be easily achieved by other means. The problem is that there are always choices, and the default choice always seems to be to drive. What we need is an understanding of what mode of transport makes the most sense for a given journey. The kind of sense that this snippet from the Bicycle Diaries just screams:

You see for many journeys, cycling is just plain quicker.

And. It. Was. Ever. Thus.

So what I’ve come up with is a sort of personal zones of transport based on this. It’s a bit like the “travel zones” used by public transport planners. Like these ones for That London, or this one for Tyneside, or even this one for the Paris Metro.

For journeys of up to around a kilometre, it just makes plain, good old common sense to walk – I’ll be there in around ten minutes or so, which is kinda the time that it takes to get a bike out from its stable, and then lock it up again at the end of my journey.

For journeys of 1km – 10km, cycling is the clear winner – for two reasons. Firstly, it’s quick. But it’s also fun, and you get to chat to other people while you ride along.

For 10-20km, we’re in the grey area. On nice sunny days, it’s good for cycling, though it will take up to an hour or so for that journey. On days when it’s pishing down, perhaps the car, or the bus, or the metro is the way to go.

Above 20km? It’s probably the car, or for real inter-city trips, the train.

So there you go – my own, personal travel zones:

  • Zone 1: 0-1km – Shank’s Pony.
  • Zone 2: 1-10km – Follow the advice of the Chingford Skinhead, “Get on your bike”
  • Zone 2.5: 10-20km – ride your bike, take the metro, use the busses, or if you really, really must, drive.
  • Zone 3: 20km+ is for cars and trains.

This might seem a little obvious, and you could question how that would apply to most people. Well, I don’t know how it is where you live, but here, more than 50% live within 10km of where they work, and around 90% within 15km.

So in the spirit of all this, we rode into Tynemouth for the book fair today. I was on our tandem, Daisy, with Daughter behind me, while Wife rode her trysty shopper, Violet. I was busy watching the traffic, but according to Wife, we got quite a few second looks from the people out walking along the sea front . . .

Posted in 'A'-List Blogs, Bike Culture, Climate Change, Cycle, Family, Global Warming, Newcastle, tandem, Whitley Bay
0 comments on “Personal Travel Zones
  1. algernond says:

    You get to chat to other people while riding along? That’s never happened to me in Cambridge before

  2. Were you wearing your sppedos again? That would explain the funny looks?

  3. Karl On Sea says:

    Algy – you just need to ride faster than everyone else. That way, you can condescend to slow down and talk to them – something they’ll be really grateful for. Then, if it turns out that they’re an escaped lunatic / pervert / physicist, you can just up the pace & leave them behind. It’s a bit like that conversation we had about how hired friends are just so much more flexible than genuine ones.

    Von – Yes, and now that you come to mention it, y’know, I think it just might.

  4. Richard Hyett says:

    Bernard Manning, a British comedian, made a choice every morning about his journey to work, should he take the Rolls Royce or the Cadillac, it was a choice which gave him endless pleasure for many years. I would like to be able to choose between, cycling, running, rollerblading and cross country skiing, then I would be rich indeed. In two years the children will no longer need taking to school, then I can leave the car at home. Until then it’s the car and the podcasts.

  5. Karl On Sea says:

    Of course, Bernard Manning was the perfect advert for the health benefits of driving rather than cycling 😉

  6. Richard Hyett says:

    Easy to think of BM as a Falstaffian like character, but he didn’t drink, smoke or do drugs and he lived to the ripe old age of 76. An endomorph undoubtably, I guess he would have been that shape even if he cycled to work.
    Still my comment did not concern BM but about the joyful choice of choosing different means of getting to and from work.

  7. Karl On Sea says:

    So which would you chose – the Cadi or the Roler?

  8. Richard Hyett says:

    What if there were a strip of smooth tarmac stretching between St Mary’s Lighthouse and Tynemouth Haven?
    What if each week, say Sunday, this strip became available to self propelled vehicles, motor vehicles were barred from the sea front?
    What if they held an annual Great North Skate, the first UK mass participation Roller Blade Race?
    Wouldn’t that be a fine thing?

  9. Karl On Sea says:

    Yes it certainly would. I think they do something similar in Paris along the banks of the Seine.

    Actually, as I live on that road from St Mary’s to Tynemouth, I’ve often wondered at the volume of traffic flowing along it. I’d love to see some serious traffic calming measures in general.

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