Alice Azania Jarvis: Running to work to beat the strike shows me the way forward
Saturday 13 June 2009
Just as I manage to get my Kensington-induced spending under control, another obstacle presents itself: transport. Regular readers will recall that, shortly before The Independent vacated its Canary Wharf offices, I had – after more than a few failed attempts – finally mastered the art of cycling to work. This was going relatively well, it has to be said – I'd whittled the journey down to a mere 20 minutes, had designed a route that managed to avoid any interaction with the roads at all, and had resisted the urge to give up. And then we moved offices.
I hadn't really thought through the move before it happened. Vaguely in the back of my mind it was a motivation to start cycling – I seem to remember calculating that my total monthly post-move commute was set to cost some ridiculous three-figure sum – but then, thinking about it now, I can't help but wonder if my reasoning was flawed.
For one, I live well over 10 miles away. More importantly, every one of those 10 miles rolls out along London's busiest roads: Old Street, Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccadilly... none of which I fancied tackling on my puny push-bike.
At any rate, the situation hasn't progressed. We have been in this new building for near-on a month now, and still I have yet to dust off my bike.
And then the Tube strike struck. Gah! Rather like January's snowstorm, this precipitated all kinds of emergency calculations: Can I afford a taxi? (No.) Can I avoid going into the office? (Ha!) Do I have time to walk? (Don't be ridiculous.)
Of course, I considered cycling, but not, it has to be said, for very long. For one thing, I'm still not convinced about the safety of those roads, and for another, it was clear from looking out my window that hundreds of other commuters had shared my idea: the road was jammed with cyclists – even the pavement had a good few – all jostling for space alongside an unusually large army of black cabs. So instead, I ran into work (good training, I think, for that marathon that I'm planning on doing).
Actually, it was surprisingly easy. Not nearly as fast as taking my bike in, but considerably less stressful. And, of course, completely free. So while the week has been made that much more complicated by these strikes, there is, at least, one silver lining: I've been forced to reconsider my complacent commute, and saved a fair bit of money along the way.
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