I was going to write about the diversity of roadkill I have encountered over the last few days. But on my ride today, with the camera phone poised, it rained so heavily that my motivation deserted me. It was OK riding in the downpour (I consider it a downpour when the heavens dump 2 inches in 90 minutes) but stopping and standing over a dead animal with a camera was going a bit too far.
So here’s something else that I noticed while riding my bike recently. (I’ll do the roadkill thing soon, I promise)
I moved to my current address 54 weeks ago. We (there’s 6 of us if you include the dog) sold our house and moved to be closer to the university we are now attending. Lots closer. We were living 25km (15.5mi) away by road with our boys going to school 10km (6mi) in the opposite direction, but now live in the same estate as the campus. That is the height of convenience.
So how does that make me a slow learner?
From where we live there are 2 ways to drive to university. Option 1 takes you out the back of the estate onto an old road that goes nowhere which is fairly quiet. This option is 4.3km (2.7mi) from my driveway to the first parking space on campus (which is never vacant). Option 2 is shorter at 3.7km (2.3mi) but it entails driving past 2 schools as well as past 2 shopping centres with all the associated bedlam and mayhem. Both driving options require about the same amount of time from start to finish.
But this estate is new (it was all farmland 10 years ago). Being new, the local council and the developers determined that with the tiny blocks they expect you to build on these days, parkland and paths were necessary. This makes the area amazing for getting around without a car. My children can ride to school and the only road they have to cross is the one at our side fence which feeds 3 streets with at total of 150 houses. And it’s only 1km (0.6mi) to school. Perfect.
Apparently it is also convenient for me to ride to university. Last year I was running late (yes, all year). Everyday I managed to leave myself very little time to get to classes so I never rode the bike. I jumped in the car, drove briskly, cursed the parking shortage and got to class eventually.
This year on the first day of classes I decided to go early and visit the bookshop before my first lecture. I jumped on my bike because I had plenty of time, and I figured that if I was running late I could just go to the bookshop after class. So I rode. I didn’t time it and I didn’t pay attention to details. And I rode home. And I rode in the next day. And the next. On the Thursday I was running late so I drove. It seemed like it took a long time. As late as I was it seemed like I was later to class than the amount of lateness at the leaving home end should have yielded. Friday I rode, and used the computer on the bike.
And here is what I discovered. It is 1.02km (0.63mi) from my garage door to the furthest bike rack on campus using the most direct route along the labyrinth of paths. The second week I rode everyday with the computer activated. My average speed for that week was 20.1kph (12.5mph). For those of you snickering at the average speed, remember this is in sandshoes with a backpack full of books on 3 foot wide paths shared with pedestrians wearing iPods.
Here is what I learned after twelve and a half months of living and studying in this location. The bike ride takes 3 minutes, plus roughly another 3 minutes to remove the front wheel and lock the bike in the rack. That’s 6 minutes. Compare that with 4km at 60kph (the local limit). That’s 4 minutes without taking into account stop signs, traffic lights and blue haired old ladies going out for the paper. Not to mention finding a parking space on campus where there are about 5000 students enrolled and a total of less than 600 student parking spaces.
Any wonder it seemed like I was later driving the car than riding the bike. And let’s not even get into the cost of fuel versus bike power. So I have finally learned that riding my bike is beneficial in more ways than one.