Transport contributes around 25% of CO2 emissions and is one of the only areas still on the rise. For that reason, this month was all about paying a little bit of deliberate attention to how I was getting from A to B.
I’ll start with my daily commute. So, I live about 1.5 miles away from where I work/play rugby, and I cruised that distance to and from my house probably 8 times a week. When I put it down on paper like that, it sounds particularly lazy.
However, in my head I had justified it:
I need to save my legs for training
I have so much kit with me. Because obviously, I must always be prepared for all weather types to occur throughout the training day, and enough food with me in case a week-long snow-in happened. Obviously.
I'm in a rush, it will be quicker to drive
I don't finish training till 9:15 pm, I won't want to cycle home then; I'll be knackered.
And probably more so than any of these reasons, all conscious thought had gone out the window. It was my routine. Get ready, grab my kitbag, pick up my keys, down in the lift, jump in the car, off I go to training. Return and repeat.
This month, I said bye to the car, choosing instead to cycle. And without trying to be a bit of a repetitive eco-warrior-preacher, honestly, it was so much easier.
I didn't have to worry about traffic. My journey was always the same. About 8 minutes. Significantly faster than driving through traffic.
Much less stressful. No drivers cutting me up, and no getting stressed because a lorry has decided to perform a 22-point turn in a small back road, causing a bullish standoff to occur and me to run late.
My legs rather than feeling sorer actually felt fresher, and a little more flushed once I had gotten to training (admittedly you may well be right if you think this screams Placebo effect)
I do however recognise the following:
I can walk or cycle solely on quiet residential streets to get to training, making it both safe and easy to not drive.
I live in London and there are many bike lanes, buses, and trains linking places together.
I live just around the corner from where I train.
It's September, which means warm and dry, mostly!
I extended my planning outside of my commute too.
For the couple of meetings, I had, I opted for the train rather than my normal choice of driving. For me, motorway driving is all about staying awake and trying to keep myself entertained with a mixture of Radio 4 and screaming Heart lyrics out at the top of my lungs. Jumping on a train, on the other hand, I had a lovely little setup. A coffee, some juice, a sandwich that I wasn't blindly eating and dropping down me. My laptop was out, rugby was on, and I could even have a little snooze if the game was a bit boring (never!).
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not possible to get the train everywhere, and sometimes it takes considerably longer. But on this occasion the difference was minimal, the cost was very similar, and so the train was a much better option… and of course that bit Eco-friendlier.
There were a few times I was required to use the car, either due to Covid-19 restrictions, or because there wasn’t another feasible option.
But the point was this: I looked into other options rather than just routinely jumping into the car. I took other transport methods, that are far better for the environment, and on the whole, found I much preferred them.
Will I completely give up my car? Certainly not yet, as sometimes I need to use it. Am I saying we should never drive anywhere? Absolutely not. For me, I love escaping London and nipping around on small country roads or heading off-road altogether.
What am I suggesting then? I’m almost saying, return to enjoying driving. Drive for the sake of driving, and appreciate driving when you do it, rather than mindlessly using cars to get from A to B. Have a conscious think about what your choice of transport is, and whether you could make a few swaps.