Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Enjoying The School Run: Cycling In

Little Johnny's back! In the flipside to my post Enjoying The Non-School-Run, this week kids go back to school. So what changes?

We return to the status quo of me cycling past stationary traffic all the way to work! Well, almost all ;-)


Is it noticeable that schools are back? Definitely! Particularly for the drivers delayed in traffic, rammed bumper to bumper, trading rear exhaust fumes with forward air intakes. For me cycling, it's noticeable because last week roads were flowing ok, and this week I have to adapt my riding style for dealing with more vehicles in the same limited road space.

The most noticeable effect is reduced visibility - sometimes only a few meters where traffic jams may be hiding all manner of hazards: e.g. pedestrians sleepwalking, right turners across your path, passenger doors opening, etc. What have I changed? Well mostly slowing down, chilling out, and upgrading my patience, in preparation for the random oddities which these crowded circumstances can throw up. As they say; expect the unexp...BOO!

Which lane would you prefer?

Jaw-Dropping Disbelief

For any new risks dense traffic might bring this week, it's got to be said, there is an undeniable satisfaction in coasting effortlessly past line upon line of stationary traffic queues.

If you added up the combined value of vehicles sat in a traffic jam, you could easily be looking at say £3 million? £5 million? worth of metal. Just sat there, spunking fuel, wasting money.

And there goes me, pedalling away, staying fit, riding past jams, wondering with jaw-dropping disbelief why these drivers suck this every day, and when they will have their eureka moment and try cycling in?

Journey Time

Cycle commuting to work for the last 2 years I can honestly say, even with the most humongous traffic jam tail-backs, blocked roads, roadworks, and the like, my actual cycling time to work remains amazingly consistent! I generally only incur a tolerance +/- 2 minutes, cycling is THAT reliable! For my car, that same tolerance is +/- 30 minutes late.

How come? Well on the bike my average speed is pretty steady, even if I push hard and go around quickly, traffic lights tend to even things out. Bikes are great for carefully filtering past stationary traffic queues. Because of that, invariably cyclists get through the 1st phase of green traffic lights they approach. The combination of these factors makes commuting times by bicycle, very predictable.

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