Bikes & Trains
I had a meeting on Friday in York. That’s about 85 miles each way . . . even at my most mileage-obsessed, that’s [probably] too far to ride, so once again, I had to choose between the car or an alternative - in this case, public transport.
This was an economic argument:
- My car’s good for 45mpg. Diesel’s currently £4.86/gal, so for a 170 mile round trip, that would be £18.36 + Tyne Tunnel (£1.20 each way = £2.40) + parking in York (£4). The total comes to £24.76. Oh, and given that my meeting was at 10 o’clock, I’d have to allow two hours each way for the journey.
- Except of course, that’s not the true cost! HM Treasury lets you claim mileage at £0.40 per mile, to take account of depreciation, servicing, tax, insurance, etc. And if that’s what the tight-ar$€s at The Treasury will let you get away with, you can bet your bottom dollar that the real cost’s higher. But we’ll go with their figures for now, which would make the cost of the journey £74.40.
- Except of course, even that’s not the true cost! When you start to factor in the cost to society of driving, I’m sure it’s even more eye-watering. Stuff like rising sea levels, droughts, flash floods, food shortages, and mass migration. However, I can’t find a model that breaks down those kind of costs into a handy £’000 per mile figure. So for now I’ll go with HM Government’s figure.
- Public transport though . . . that’s expensive and slow isn’t it? Not so much it turns out. I found a standard class train ticket on Train Line for just £23, including seat reservations next to a power socket for my laptop. Train time from Newcastle to York: 64 minutes. And if I rode into Newcastle Central train station, that would makethe total journey time about 1h50m each way.
So the train would work out faster and cheaper. And given the fact that it also allows me to work (on the free wifi you get on intercity trains nowadays) for an hour each way, it’s clearly better too. In overly-quoted business guru, Michael Porter’s terms, that’s a First-Best Strategy: a competition killer.
So that’s what I did - took the train, riding into Newcastle & back on my Sturdy Commuting Bike, packed with a full change of clothes (weather forecast distinctly iffy), laptop, and all the usual stuff.
I took a new route into town - following the path that runs parallel to The Coast Road. I commented about this on David Hembrow’s blog today - it’s a fast, arrow-straight route, but could just be SO much better. Still 35 minutes to the centre of Newcastle during the rush hour’s pretty damned quick . . .
Anyway, I parked my bike at the station, and locked it next to another cool old bike, with just the most amazing head badge.
Shows the kind of abstract crap that some modern manufacturers produce for head badges up for what it is. I mean, when there are firms like Rivendell producing gorgeous things like these, why would I want to ride a Giant? I know it’s just a bit of bling at the front of the bike, and that a bike is just a machine for transporting me and my stuff. But I want it to transport my soul as well. And the Coventry Eagle looks like the kind of ride that I’d take right up to the gates of Valhalla.
Anyway . . . in York, I saw this:
What I find more intriguing is that they’re for hire from a car hire company - Europehire.
Could this be yet another sign of the times - that people WANT to hire a bike in preference to cars, or just that York is, as Carlton Reid told me, bicycle central?
Hmmm . . .
- Type: Cycle
- Date: 11/07/2008
- Total Time: 1:20:00.00
- Distance: 21 miles
- Average Speed: 15.75 mph