Why would you?


It doesn’t take much to bring traffic to a standstill these days.  My commute, as mentioned before, is about twelve and a half miles each way.  On days other than school holidays when the traffic is at its worst, I would generally be filtering between stationary traffic for about four of those miles.  Bad rain or an accident makes the traffic back up even more.

Take this morning for example, I got about a mile from home before encountering stationary traffic.  The queue of virtually stationary cars continued for about 8 miles to the far side of Holywood, where a VW golf must have met another car trying to cross the dual carriageway.  By the look of the wreckage, the impact would have been enough to spoil anyone’s day. 

On the few occasions when I have had to bring a car to work, I have taken a push bike with me, parked a few miles out of the town centre, and then cycled the last few miles.  It is either that or queue for horrendously overpriced parking closer to town that may not even be available because there simply aren’t enough spaces.  The last few miles of such a commute, whether walked or cycled may be good for exercise, but they are not in pleasant surroundings, and if it rains you are guaranteed to get the worst of it either directly from the heavens, or thrown up by passing cars.

Yet I have often been asked how I can put up with the wonderful Irish weather while commuting on a motorcycle?  When on my Suzuki, I am geared up from door to door, and the bike itself was specifically chosen because of its good weather protection.  I am guaranteed to arrive at work dry and warm.  Also on the bike I get free parking in the city centre, use of the bus lanes to bypass queues of cars, and can filter when, like today, the cars are going nowhere.  OK, the journey took longer today because of the accident, but it was still a fraction of what it would have been had I been in a car!  Public transport is little better than a car commute.  The quoted journey times for our local trains are station to station; thus they ignore the additional journey from home to station, and from station to work.  As I have written before, most people would still need their own car just to get to one of the stations.  The bike wins on any type of sensible analysis.

This is not to downplay the potential dangers of commuting on a motorcycle.  A high level of built in paranoia about those you share the road with is a necessary prerequisite for any such journey, but then that is true for car drivers as well as the owner of that VW Golf found out today.  I passed only one other motorcyclist today; a guy on a large BMW trail bike.  He was having trouble getting a bike of this size through some of the gaps (he had panniers on), but thankfully was keeping a good eye behind him, and pulled over to let my much narrower bike past.  Thanks mate.

The burning questions of the day then are:

  1. Why does anyone bother commuting by car unless they actually need the car once they get to work?
  2. Why do so few people, even those who own a bike, see the advantages of using it for commuting?

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