A friend of mine has a complete aversion to public transport. ‘It’s slow’ he says. ‘I have to share my space with other people’, he moans. It’s a point I couldn’t agree with him less. If I take the train to London (which I do; regularly), it takes 2hrs and 4mins to whisk me from Cardiff Central Station and deposits me at Paddington, refreshed, prepared and slab dab in the centre of the city. No traffic congestion. No idling at lights. No making hand gestures at the driver that scythed across your lane causing your bag to leap from the back seat and spill its contents into the footwell. No driving aimlessly trying to find a carpark that’ll fleece every penny for a meagre hour or two of caging your motor. And when I arrive (in style, incidentally, as the train glides to an elegant halt), I remove my folded bike from the rack and carry it by the handle. I step off the train, onto the platform and wait for the purposeful crowd to move toward the turnstiles. Then I unfold the front wheel and click the stem into position. Raise the saddle to it’s full height and pick the bike up to release the rear wheel. I give the cranks one revolution to settle the chain and I’m ready to ride off into the distance. Most journeys will be within 20-30 minutes ride of the station. Time to work the muscles. Get air in the lungs and refresh the mind. I know where I’m going of course. I had plenty of time to check the details on the train (coffee in one hand, tab in the other). And as for sharing space with other people?……That’s life my friend. There’s 7 billion people on the planet. Cocoon yourself from it and problems will arise (save the solo stuff for long rides to the coast).
Now surely, surely, that is better than taking the car.
As ever, this piece comes with the caveat that I do own a car and find it necessary for some trips and where a short notice ticket costs more than a small house on the outskirts of the Brecon Beacons national park. The rest of the time I’ll be mostly on my bike or on a train. Or on a train, then on a bike. You get the picture.
Top image: Congestion as I arrived at Paddington last week <joke>. Bottom video: Very romantic British Rail ad from the 80s.