Do the math

Recently I’ve been based at our Sutton Coldfield store which in a car is about a 22 mile commute using the motorway network around Birmingham or 19 miles if I cycle straight through the city. Additionally I’ve been using the train occasionally over the last few weeks, due to spraining my ankle, so let’s quickly look at which is the best way to commute for me and why.

Up until recently and because of the pandemic I hadn’t been on a train for quite a while. The train journey from station to station is 50 mins, if they’re on time, and they were only occasionally a few mins late which was no bother. I love the train, sat there, stress-free people watching playing on my phone. It’s a great way to travel but comes with a big BUT. Firstly it is far too expensive. A single fare for me, for a 50 min, 20 mile journey is £7. It cannot be right that public transport is so much more expensive than driving a private car. It’s mad. Additionally I had to factor in a 10 min or 5 min cycle to/from the station at Sutton and rely on my girlfriend to pick me up at my local station to home or cycle 15 mins. Add up all that time and the train takes a LONG time. Door to door is easily 80 mins+ when you factor in waiting on the platform aswell. I will still use the train but rarely I think and as a treat when I have the time.

Quite frankly I hate driving to work. I become part of the problem and I just sit there stationary a lot of the time just winding myself up thinking how did we get in this mess. Birmingham has become a congested traffic sewer and everyone needs to put aside convenience and actually start to think what are they going to do to help. Anyway, from a time point of view what used to be a 35 min journey and still can be on a quiet Saturday morning, at the height of rush hour can be easily 50 – 60 minutes now. It has just got worse and worse. It’s stressful and quite frankly there are better things I could be doing than sitting in traffic for 2hrs of my life every working day.

the joy I have when I see this on my bike is real

I’ve said before that due to the high levels of traffic and poor driving standards and a distinct lack of good quality, segregated cycling infrastructure that cycling through the city can be stressful as you have to be alert all the time. Every ride I can guarantee I will arrive within 70-75 mins normally door to door. It costs nothing and given the times above, competitive on time. Throw in zero emissions and it keeps me fit, the stress of it is worth it because of the positives it delivers. When I get in and shower I’m refreshed and fired up.

So the train is £7 and 80+ mins, the car/van is cheaper and quicker but the most stressful and pollutes the most and my bike is free, emission-free and only a few mins slower with a free workout every time. Cycling to work is a no-brainer.

I don’t advocate everyone cycles 20 miles to work every day like I do (I don’t actually but I’d like to) but people need to consider alternatives to their car where they can because there is a choice, they just need to take it. One ride (electric bike!!!!!), one walk, one train journey or one bus ride at a time. If we all made a small change, it would make a big difference.

Other notable transport choices I didn’t mention are walking and taking a bus. Sadly 19 miles is a bit extreme even for me to walk and using a bus would take me over 2hrs probably which is impractical and a shame really.

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