Carfree commuting

This article was published in 1998, in Newsletter 21.

Do you think that there are too few cars in Cambridge? I don’t, so I decided to try to make a difference. Let me explain how I travel into Cambridge.

I live in Fenstanton (12 miles to the west). Rather than take my car in to work, I catch the bus. I get off at Fitzwilliam College. Here I have an old bike camouflaged amongst the students’ cycles. I unlock my bike and ride the two miles in to work. On the way back I reverse the procedure.

This provides the benefits of:

  • Saving time
  • No sitting in traffic jams
  • No problems parking. A bike can be left outside a shop, locked up at work, etc
  • Cost. This approach is much cheaper and, perhaps more importantly, it is much better for the environment and the residents of Cambridge.

The problems are:

  • Complexity. You have to be aware of and synchronise yourself to when the buses run.
  • Your journey is fragmented. This makes it a little more complex than getting in your car and driving. But is that really too hard for you to do?
  • You have to find a place where your bike is secure.

This brings me to the last point in this homily. I think this method of travelling into and around Cambridge has promising possibilities. Every person on a bike or on a bus is one fewer in a car. Could you make a contribution to calming the traffic chaos? Could your trip to work be made ‘carless’ like this?

What is needed is a selection of locations to provide security for bikes locked up overnight. Two possibilities could be bike sheds at the Park and Ride sites or the evolution of ‘cycle pubs.’

If you think this is a Good Idea, please write in.

Kieran Toner