28 Oct 2010

Bonkers to be missing a money saving, time saving trick

I have had to have my bicycle off the road and decided to eschew the Boris bike and try depending in London upon public transport for a day – and included mini cabs and cabs in that. I should explain that any tube station is a minimum of 10 minutes walk from my office. I am fortunate in that my home is two minutes from a Northern Line station.

I normally leave home at 9.15 am. The journey by bike gets me to our morning editorial meeting at 9.30 am. The Northern Line, when it works – which is usually – provides many trains and the journey time to the nearest station to Channel 4 News, Kings Cross is around 12 minutes and runs every three or four minutes at that time.

Yesterday I left home at 9.00 am. I was on a train moving out of my station within an impressive five minutes. We arrived within seven minutes at Euston. I was beginning to worry that public transport was seriously challenging the joys of cycling.  

No such luck. Someone had been taken ill at London Bridge station and a grim echoing voice advised that all trains on the Northern Line were being held at station platforms.

I leapt from the train before the door closed and ran up the escalator. Euston, after all, is a mere five minutes from my studio on a bike – I reasoned that it couldn’t be more than twice that on foot. I was wrong. I trotted and walked but still took nearly 20. I arrived at work at 9.43. Forty three minutes for a 15 minute cycle journey.

During the day I had to go to Chelsea for a meeting with a contact. Later I had to go to Westminster to interview the Foreign Secretary William Hague.

The former journey took a total journey time of one whole hour (an hour I did not have) – by bike I have done it in half an hour. The latter journey took 45 minutes. Total costs by mini cab and taxi, £43 plus £7.20 for a one day rail card for the tube (in case I had had to use it during the day). Over £50 on a day when I normally spend nothing on transport. And two hours of my working life sapped by travelling.

Last night I had to hand out an award at the London Film Festival Awards. The car they sent each proved quicker than I could have done (in a dinner jacket) on a bike and was free!

But let me ask, why on earth do more people not use a bike. I have learned the hard way, that there is absolutely no rational alternative.

Wherever you live, you are bonkers, in an urban setting, not to depend upon a bike whatever the weather! Particularly when money is tight.

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