Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Getting to work on my bike - why is it so hard?

So today I was asked to complete a survey for CENTRO (a local transport agency) - about how I commute to work, when and why I use the methods of getting to work.

A little background to my journey to work - it's 12.5 miles (depending on route) and on a good day the journey takes 45 minutes at 7am and 1hr at approx. 5pm.

Now I drive a Mondeo 2.5T ST - a thirsty car - and with good reason - it's a lovely car to drive and averages approx. 20-23mpg on my commute.

My commute takes me from Dudley, UK to the south side of Birmingham, UK. In itself this seems relatively simple... however...

Walking isn't an option unless I wanted to spend 8 hours a day walking.

Bus means a walk to the town from my house (1 mile) - then another bus to Birmingham, then another bus towards my workplace.

Train means a walk to the town from my house (1 mile) - then a bus to the train station, then train to Birmingham, then change trains onto the cross city line, then walk to my workplace from the station.

All in all I have never been able to get to work in under 2 hours using public transport - hence why I drive and why this has really been my only option.

Why not cycle I hear you say?

Well simple:

  1. Nowhere to lock up my bike
    • I cannot feel happy leaving my bike chained to a railing outside my building
  2. Nowhere to get changed
    • I cannot teach lessons in lycra!
  3. Nowhere to have a shower when I get there
    • Spending 6+ hours in work clothes without freshening up would be healthy for me or my students!
Weirdly - the only thing stopping me cycling to and from work (particularly in the summer months) is the fact the facilities aren't available for me.

CENTRO asked these questions and can make £5000 available to our workplace if they feel the school and indeed the environment would benefit from the investment. What is interesting is public sector employers seem to be miles behind others in this. Why don't we have staff showers? Why don't we have a secure bike shed with CCTV running and being monitored?

I know this all costs money - however imagine if people who genuinely enjoy cycling could cycle to work, less cars, less road repairs, less traffic, fitter residents. Surely everyone wins.

I for one have suggested all these things on the survey and have also signed up to be a member of our workplaces "Transport plan committee" in the hope that people will see sense.

For me personally I spend about £300 a month on fuel - I could easily halve this bill and indeed even more so when you consider tyre wear, etc. Not to mention I would accrue considerable miles under my belt each month.

If you work somewhere and receive such a survey - don't ignore it - shout about what you want!