Oh looky- the BBC have finally jumped on the bandwagon (a bit late to the party) to tell us that “Road Tax” doesn’t exist. Oh really?! Cheers BBC!
Excuse me for rolling my eyes slightly, though really I should be very pleased that this issue has been given a decent airing on a mainstream news provider. I blogged about it last November but I wasn’t the first and of course (as proved) won’t be the last.
(have a picture of something)
I’ve had a frustrating week in regards to social media and responses to comments about cars and driving.
I hope that anyone reading this blog can see that I am by no means “anti car” (I almost typed “anti CAT” which would be heinous) or “anti drivers”- just someone who really enjoys cycling and would like to spread good correct information and knowledge about sharing the roads. It baffles me that people become so defensive and reactionary when I challenge their beliefs about driving. In fact often I find that I’m not really challenging people’s actual beliefs, but simply challenging them to think about their travel in more detail- something they’ve just never bothered to think about.
I think that a lot of this is related to my job. It’s my job to stay well informed and on top of issues related to travel and transport- and I work in a progressive area- encouraging people to think about the way they travel. My job has never been to force people to change their ways, to expect people to make unrealistic decisions or to belittle their current choices- but instead to work with potential and show people the options. If someone has an interest in changing their travel behaviour, or some kind of trigger (cost of running a car becoming too much/ struggling with health)- I can give suggestions and support to looking at the possibilities. Not all journeys are suitable by active travel (walking/cycling etc) or sustainable travel (walking/cycling/public transport), but many are.
Currently in the UK 1/5 journeys under 1 mile are made by car, ( Source) and over 2/3 of journeys 1-5 miles are made by car. To put this into perspective- a 1 mile journey is a 20 minute walk at an average walking pace of 3mph or a 6 minute cycle at a nice gentle cycling pace of 10mph.
I’m always keen to try to help people think about how they travel. For me, it has become second nature to consider each journey before I take it to work out the best method of transport.
Some examples of decisions:
This weekend my husband and I visited York for a friends’ wedding. The journey is a 500 mile round trip, which previously we’ve happily done by train. When you book ahead the journey is not particularly costly and takes a similar time to the driving. This time, we drove- with three suitcases (one each plus the hospital bag as baby is due in just 5 weeks) and the baby car seat. Plus the cat was going on a cat-holiday to my parents, so for the first part of the journey we had him and all his associated paraphenalia too.
Last night I had my pregnancy yoga class, which is just over 2.5 miles from my house and the majority of the journey on shared use cycle routes or back roads. So I cycled it, happily. In the rain.
My journey to the office by road would be almost a 50 mile drive, taking a minimum of 1 hour in good traffic (which it would never be). I’ve actually never braved it by car (I don’t particularly enjoy driving!), but it’s about 1 hour by train (plus a walk or cycle at both ends).
Our local shops are a 0.45 mile walk from where we live. A round trip by foot, including buying shopping takes about 30 minutes tops. If I were to drive (it would be 0.75 miles by road), there are only a few parking spaces outside, so I’d likely have to park up and walk to the shops anyway. By the time I’d got the car out, driven, parked up etc it would have taken me just as long. To cycle it’s about 3 minutes. Unsurprisingly, I choose to walk and cycle.
And it all adds up- in 2012 after breaking my should in March and the subsequent long recovery, I completed over 420 hours of exercise- the majority of which was integrated into my daily life via commuting or using short journeys to the shops, to see friends etc by foot or by bike. I covered over 2,500 miles, lost weight and became much more healthy as a result.
My husband and I share a car, which we use for longer journeys or those where we need to carry lots of kit. We have travelled 17,000 miles in our current car since buying it in October almost two years ago. The average annual car milage driven per person in the UK in 2010 was 8,430 (National Travel Survey 2010 Source) which has likely risen since then so we’re doing half of that each us, which is very satisfying.
That’s the decisions I make- I’m often baffled by how little people think about how they travel. They complain about the cost of petrol, the traffic they get stuck in …. etc (which always makes me think of this advert campaign and subsequent editing of it…)
They make unfounded statements like “busses smell” or “cycling is dangerous” to excuse the fact they’ve never considered it or tried it.
I’d say- just try it! Choose a sensible journey that you might normally drive and try something different. Or get off the bus a stop earlier and walk.
We view cars as being our ticket to freedom, but we seem so chained to them……