7mph. The average speed I achieved driving from my house the 4 mile distance to pickup my two kids in rush hour recently. The return journey was no better. Over 1 hours total car time for a 8 mile round trip that should take 7 minutes each way. Absurd.
I would like to point out though that this is not a regular journey for me. Which was probably why I was so perplexed by the situation. I couldn’t believe how happy everyone else was to sit there using fuel achieving nothing. And the worst thing? most were sitting alone. With the prospect of this actually becoming a regular journey for me I started to get a little agitated.
Now I’m no saint when it comes to miles driven. I have a company car and travel all over the south of the UK for work. But its necessity and after exploring other options there are no viable alternatives for the work I do. The rail network is a joke, unreliable, expensive, with poor capacity for onward travels by bicycle, and has limited station locations.
Now despite the ongoing roadworks across Bournemouth commuters still seem obsessed with sitting in their metal boxes. I seriously think that with money stretched to breaking point the phrase ‘An Englishman’s home is his castle’ needs to change. More people rent than ever before so people can’t claim a home as their castle, I think ‘An Englishman’s car is his castle’ is more fitting. And people are dying to show them off. I personally believe new car sales will be the tipping point for more financial difficulties worldwide with people stretching themselves further to own a status vehicle, and with mortgages too far out of reach its easy for many to overcommit to a car. Despite the so called ‘responsible lending’ I believe car finance is the next sub prime mortgage scandal.
Anyway whats the solution? No its not just bicycles. But its a good start. How am I going to help and avoid that dreaded waste of time and resource? Well my plan is to buy a Bakfiets. Ok so whats a Bakfiets? I hear you say. A Dutch cargo bike with a box on the front of it. This is purely for my own benefit, despite the benefits for other road users with another car off the road, I want to be able to pick my kids up from nursery faster. (But yes I do have a social and moral compass when it comes to alternative transport methods that are beneficial the environment and community!).
The above would be the dream machine. A mid drive motor, room for two kids and loads of stuff, and able to easily hold 16mph with the electric assist. Lets just think about that for a second. There are few traffic hold ups on a bike (secretly this is what die hard car drivers hate, the cycles inability to get stuck in traffic. It’s all jealousy) , the journey is 4 miles long, and we can probably average 15mph. That half hour car journey suddenly becomes 16 minutes, thats over double the speed just by changing your method of transport. The fuel bills have disappeared, and you are getting fitter.
With those numbers out there its a pretty basic decision for people. You sit there being traffic (you aren’t stuck in traffic, you are the traffic), or you start moving faster under your own steam. Theres a phrase isn’t there ‘If you want something doing, do it yourself’ and I think thats where most motorists fall down, they are too happy to let themselves be traffic because they can’t be arsed to make a change. Its too much hard work to change their opinion, it challenges their personal beliefs, and they fear the opinions of their peers.
So maybe its not just an obsession where people can only afford to have their car as a status symbol, maybe its also the threat to a car owners core beliefs. Maybe both can be fixed with education on both social and environmental impact for all? Maybe sometimes you’ve just got to get off your arse, do whats best for you, and change things.
My minds made up. How about yours?