I have posted before about some sights from my London commute via train and tube (both people and places). Despite these positives takes, I have never been much of a fan of my journey to and from work. I have become a much bigger user of mobile technologies and e-reading to make the time productive and pretend I am somewhere else, but this has its limits and is frequently interrupted by delays, discomfort and frustrated fellow passengers.
Two weeks ago, I set off for a different kind of journey, on a new, folding bicycle. I have cut out the tube, and now take the train in the ‘quiet’ direction part way into town before jumping on my bike. Many people will understandably be of the opinion that a cycle through central London at rush hour is not preferable to the alternatives. I was one of these people until quite recently when I finally got back on a bicycle after nine years and have quickly become a convert to this form of transport.
Suddenly my journey to and from work has been transformed. It is not easy, and it is not always relaxing. I cycle at least eight miles a day (not far by many people’s standards, I realise) and carry my bike across three bridges and up and down two flights of stairs at work. It is, though, rewarding and freeing, and allows me to get some good exercise done in the ordinary course of my day.
I get both to and from work faster than I did before, and for half the price (excepting the cost of the bike, which would pay for itself in less than a year). I arrive at work awake and ready to go; I get home ready to relax, having left my work behind somewhere on the New King’s Road. If I want, and have the energy, I do not have to be subject to any transportation timetables, and instead can just keep going on my bike, taking on an extra eight miles and routing through a Royal Park.
This experience has slightly changed how I feel about going to work. More noticeably, though, it has changed how I feel about home. I had my job before I had my house, and made the choice to take on a longer journey to live in a nicer house, in a quieter area. With a more balanced journey bookending my working days and weeks, it’s easier to enjoy my home too.