At the beginning of January 2019, I started tracking my work commutes. In recent years, both external factors and my own thoughts about sustainability have caused me to re-evaluate the old-fashioned habit of taking a car commute as granted.
I worked 22 days in January. Weather conditions, injuries and some unplanned temporary parking vacancies at work caused me to still take the car a majority of the time, on 13 days (59%). I used public transport (the bus) on 7 days (32%) and only cycled on 1 day (4.5%). I was also multi-modal (car & running/bike) a half-day each (4.5%).
The number of car commutes was higher than planned. Typically, going forward in 2019 I expect to take the car to work no more than 2 days per week. This allows me to easily bring extra food or clothing for days where I expect to bike or run to work. Normally, commuting to work by car takes me about 30-40 minutes depending on traffic. My commutes are mostly with my small electric car, so I do not cause any local pollution (and little global pollution).
I took the bus to work on 7 days, and it’s definitely not my favorite mode of transportation. The bus often gets stuck in traffic, tends to be quite busy, seating is fairly uncomfortable and often temperature regulation leaves a lot to be desired. The #197 line that I use stops about 0.3km from my home and arrives about 1km from work. The benefit is that I get a healthy walking routine “for free”, but also means that even if the bus takes the same 30-40 minutes than my car commute, walking and waiting easily adds another 15-20 minutes to that; making for a total commute time of about 45-60 minutes.
I only bicycled to work one day in January, which was both due to weather conditions but also – unfortunately – to developing pretty severe knee pain during the month. Short days in winter also means that it’s impossible for me to bike in the comparatively safer daylight, except if I leave home quite late or leave work very early. Using a safer but longer route, cycling typically takes me about 55 minutes.
The few remaining percent were multi-modal, and spread among a half-day each of driving the car to an intermediary spot and then either running or cycling the remainder of the way. This isn’t very efficient time-wise, because I actually end up doing more kilometers and spending more time than if I was outright cycling or driving the entire way. Time-wise, it might take me between 50 minutes (30 minutes by car, 20 minutes by bike) and 60 minutes (30min each) when running. The advantage (which I didn’t use this month due to injuries) is that when I’m back in training these car+run journeys allow me to integrate my workouts into my commute by adding as few or as many detours as I like.