Saturday, August 09, 2008

Car, Tube, & Bike London

Riding a bike in London could be considered a daunting prospect, by those who haven’t tried it. In reality, it’s very accessible to anyone seeking a more enjoyable and less stressed method of urban travel.Take three typical London journeys, by bike, by car and by tube. What’s a day in the life, like?

Tube Traveller

One trillion people use the London Underground every day, and most of them will be in your carriage. Upon raising your eyebrows at yet another inflation-exceeding price rise for your travelcard, you descend in to the tunnels of doom, to join the five person deep throng which awaits the already-full incoming tube train.

You let a few tube trains go, because a) nobody could fit on, and b) one bloke looked a bit like achmed the terrorist.

Once on the tube train, amidst the crush, you’re thankful it’s the morning cattle train, where the occupants’ strong eau de toilette is still potent, causing enough light-headedness to help blank-out the distressing journey. The hot afternoon return leg is a different story…

Car driver

You step in to your big investment, and admire the gadgets; sat nav, traction control, sports mode. You take a last look, because you won’t be needing any of them. The dashboard display reads mpg, average speed (eek!), fuel remaining, but wisely does not inform the cost per minute. Running this resource-hungry investment in London, needs its own accountant.

It is possible to fit 10 bicycles in to the road space a car takes up. London is not a new-town design. London was designed and built for horse and cart movements, we’ve been only tinkering with the roads ever since. You know that, and prepare for another crawl of frustrating traffic jams, clogged junctions, and parking nightmares.

Bike Rider

You set off and take an option on your route; perhaps a little detour by a canal, or through a tranquil park before returning to the roads. You take it easy and the wind keeps you cool, you’ve realised that wherever there are traffic lights, it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you pedal, the journey time remains reliably static.

You filter gracefully past long lines of traffic, and arrive at your very own green box at each set of lights. You never see the same red signal more than once. You look left and notice that vehicles are spending more time stationary, than moving. You look right and watch the crowds pour from the confined underground.

White-van-man supplies a compliment about your legs, an understandable release of frustration since he has been stuck in traffic for the last two hours, and on paper, should be going faster than you.

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Anonymous said...

Since moving to London I've realised that the public transport system here is disgusting and travelling by car is a joke. I live in SW and you can add either a train or a bus journey before I even get a whiff of a tube station. Commuting the nine miles from my house to work by public transport or car takes me 1.5-2.5 hours. Instead, I look forward to my 40min bike ride through the City every morning. Why so many people insist on throwing their time away by sitting in their tin cans inhaling their money in the form of petrol fumes, I've no idea.

Sergio said...

The reason why people carry on buying and using cars is propaganda. More that 50% of advertising is about cars. Its called brainwashing, and it works somehow... bike is the only sane way to travel a city. Electric bikes are the next step.

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