Those of you who live outside of London, or the UK, can probably still be able to appreciate the problems a public transport strike causes – one that closes the major form of public transport in a large city. Besides annoying people immensely, doubling journey times and a massive increase in vehicles on the road, I believe in the long run it was a good thing thing.
[Picture via: BBC]
Why? The number of cyclists on the road was about 5 times more than usual from my non-scientific (i.e. counting) estimates. The people walking was around 8 times more than normal. Yes this was out of necessity, yes there were a lot of people out with maps, yes some people were angry, but they were out of their cars (due to increased road traffic) or off public transport. Of course, public transport is better than individuals driving in cars, but still consumes vast resources.
According to walking route planning site Walkit.com, for the week affected by the strike, traffic through the site increased by approximately five fold (compared to the week before). The site generated 176,116 miles of walking routes and therefore maybe helped people burn off a possible 6.6 million calories.
A lot of people I’ve spoken to have said “I didn’t realise it was so close”, “It was only a short walk”, or “I quite enjoyed it actually”. At least 10 people where I work have said they’re going to walk or cycle at least part of the way now, directly as a result of the strike. Multiply that up by the thousands of companies in London and you might just have a mini-revolution.
Whilst not always feasible, walking is an excellent way of exercising, as of course is cycling. However as we approach the winter, and dark mornings and nights, will the promise of walking or cycling be gradually forgotten? We’ll see, I hope not.