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:
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 . . .