At Black Skies Blue we’re implementing a transport hierarchy to help us prioritise more sustainable travel options. One of the ways we can reduce our carbon footprint, and improve our own health and wellbeing is to use active travel more. As part of the exploration of what that might look like, I agreed to keep a transport journal for a week, testing out different active and more sustainable transport options.
Here’s how I got on and my recommendations:
I try to work from home on Mondays so my kids don’t need childcare, and I can run them to their after-school clubs.
Today I start by cycling my youngest on a tag-along to school. The heavens open, proper buckets of rain. I was tempted to turn back home and shove him in the car.
Upon arrival, not only is he soaking wet, he is absolutely covered in mud. The mud guard must have fallen off my back wheel, and he got the full force.
I hand him in sheepishly, and slope off home for a change of clothes.
Verdict: Weather isn’t an issue with the right kit. Check the weather beforehand, invest in some waterproof trousers and fix the mud guard. Maybe teach youngest to ride his own bike. Already regretting volunteering to keep a transport diary.
Quick trip to visit Ike and Alexander of Walker Creative Video Production to talk about purposeful business, storytelling and how the two work together.
Their office is based at the Drill Hall in Leith, a lovely (mostly off road) and relatively flat, 25 minute cycle from our office. Due to arrive at 10.00 am.
At 9.00 am, I notice my tyre is completely flat. Luckily, my bike is due its annual service, so I drop it into BG Cycles on the way and jump on the bus at 9.30 am.
All is going well and I’m still running on time…then we hit Leith.
tramworks in Leith mean an insane one-way traffic light system. The bus driver lets us know this can take “forever’, so I jump off the bus to walk the final 13 minutes.
I finish my meeting. Thinking I was smart, I walk past the tramworks and find a bus stop. Only one bus gets through every half hour, I grab the first bus out of Leith.
The bus doesn’t go as far as my home, so I jump off and walk the rest of the way.
My total travelling time for a 1.5 hour meeting is 2 hours.
Verdict: Check your tyres. In this case, taking the car would have been just as bad, the bike would have been perfect. It doesn’t take much time to check tyres, will remember to do so in future.
Wednesday – half way through my Sustainable Transport Diary!
Discovered I can catch a bus all the way there and back – it takes an hour, but timings are good and maybe I can work on the bus?
I could cycle it in 45 minutes, but don’t like the look of the route.
According to Google, a car would take anything between 24 and 50 minutes – so bus it is!
I attempt to work on my laptop to make the most of the journey time, using my phone as a hotspot. Great in theory, but in reality (and as the bus gets busy), I end up with a corner of the laptop wedged up my nose and typing is pointless.
Get to Napier University on time(ish).
I meet Everyone’s Edinburgh Business for Good Programme Manager, Simon Farrell. He’s looking flush after I had apparently “inspired” (shamed) him into cycling to the meeting.
Have a great time with Simon, Pam Herries and Miles Weaver of Napier University, Sustainability Professor and governance geek.
Going home, not so great…I miss the bus! I attempt to catch one on a different route, which means a 10 minute walk to find the new bus stop through a dodgy overpass. I don’t get my laptop out.
Just miss the after school club pick up time, lots of dirty looks from school and child alike.
Travelling time for 3 hour meeting is 2.5 hours.
Verdict: Bus prioritisation on roads would have made this journey a doodle. Start to covet electric bikes, think they might be my best option for sustainable transport. Recommend buying a bike map, available from all good bike shops. Can’t believe only half way through my sustainability transport diary!
Pick up a hired e-bike from ELREC – a brilliant scheme that lets you hire an electric bike, at a reasonable cost (£20 for 3 weeks) to try before you buy.
The chap recommends I take it easy at first. I am sceptical, it’s only a bike. Promptly pop it at the highest setting and panic when I nearly rear end a car! This is fun.
The rest of my day is office based, and online so I cycle the 5 miles home.
Arrive in 23 minutes and nothing aches!
Verdict: Try and find a similar scheme, electric bikes are pricy so this is a great way to test out if its worth it for you.
Day starts with a networking event at Dovecot Studios in town.
I take off like a rocket “Wheeeee!” I reckon I average around 13-14 mph in town, not far off the car.
I turn up to a meeting with a healthy glow (as opposed to a sweaty one).
Verdict: Get an electric bike! Suddenly I’m looking for reasons to cycle. I still avoid the road when I can, but I’m not as timid now as I feel I can keep up, particularly on hill starts.
Month after completing my Sustainable Transport Diary
Who would have thought, when I started my sustainability transport diary that my experience (and cool bike) would turn me into an avid cyclist. Supported by public transport, I now rarely take the car.
Click here to read my getting cycle ready guide, aimed at relative novices/part time cyclists like me.
If you or your organisation are thinking of looking at your sustainability transport options and are interested in creating your own sustainability transport hierarchy, read our article here on how to get started.
For more information please contact Jayne Saywell, one of our Business Advisors. Her knowledge, experience and ideas can help your company thrive in a wellbeing economy, and find joy in a sustainable future.