Monday 30 December 2013

Ride a bike and have complete control over your transport time and schedule

Summary: Having complete control over your time and schedule is one of the less obvious but very satisfying consequences of using a bike to get around. You can be totally independent and spontaneous, leave when you want, there are almost never delays in your trip time and you can park right outside your destination. This control and independence is a big reason people who primarily cycle for transport would never go back to driving or public transport.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by EdinburghCycleChic

1. Never be late again (unless you want to)
- In riding around Melbourne I am never held up and my trip time is always entirely predictable and under my control. If I'm ever "late" to arrive somewhere it's never because I was stuck in traffic, couldn't get a park or my train/train was delayed - it's just because I decided to leave late. Bicycle trip times hardly vary at all regardless of time of day, congestion, accidents, weather, etc.

2. Set your own timetable that runs 24/7
- Unlike with public transport there is no timetable - no-one else sets the times you can depart or arrive, skips your stop or shuts down the service. When travelling by car, you often are travelling with others and so coordinating when to leave or be picked up is necessary and one person waiting for another is common. And if sharing a car with your partner then you don't have 24/7 access to your transport as there will be times when they are out using it.

3. Have more freedom to suit yourself without inconveniencing others
- At social events with a partner or friends it's not uncommon for individual's to want to arrive and leave at different times. When travelling in a car together this isn't possible. When travelling by bike you can ride together when it suits, but when it doesn't, each person can suit themselves - for instance one person arriving later or staying on longer at a social event.

4. Make spontaneous decisions, change plans freely and fit in more stops easily
- Traffic, parking availability, dependent passengers and being a significant distance from your transport are never problems when using a bike. For example, if I am riding somewhere and see an ATM I just stop right next to it, get money and then keep going. If I'm out socially and receive a message to meet friends elsewhere, I can just walk outside grab my bike and go. It's only when you start using a bike that you'll really appreciate how easy, flexible and opportunistic transport can be.

5. Never be separated from your transport vehicle
- When you use a bike your transport is always available and typically a minute away. Compare this to the various situations in which drivers lose access. E.g. Early bird or other parking specials save money but you essentially lose access to using your car for substantial periods. Conversely, someone who rides a bike to work can use that bike at lunchtime for errands, meeting friends for lunch, going to the gym or any other purpose.

- If you go out by car and then drink alcohol, you may often need to leave your car somewhere due to being over the limit. This requires other methods of getting home and then having to fetch your car later.

6. Have a 100% reliable transport vehicle
- A properly-equipped utility bicycle (the critical addition being puncture-proof tyres) never breaks down. My bike simply cannot fail to start (battery/weather), run out of gas, get a flat tyre, have a mechanical breakdown or be out-of-service awaiting servicing/repair. When properly locked up with a U lock, there is almost no chance of it being stolen either. It also isn't a money pit that needs expensive registration, insurance, servicing and fuel to keep on the road.

Further Info:
The Urban Country: Bicycles Are For People Who Can’t Be Late

Melbourne commuters 'crying, begging' to board trains as Metro Trains suffer under the heat

The Age: The true cost of Metro skipping stations

Crikey: The Urbanist - What’s better: a train that’s late or one that doesn’t get there at all?