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17 May, 2005

On the road

Though I take it for granted too often, I do appreciate the fact that I live less than 15 minutes from work.  I may have to power the bike myself, in all weather, but a third of my route is in the countryside, and during rush hour I couldn't do it any faster by car.

It also means that on the rare occasions that I oversleep, I can be fully asleep at 08:30 but at my desk before 09:00.  Still asleep, of course.

When I was househunting in early 2003, I restricted my search to one side of Lancaster, specifically for ease of commuting. An added advantage of this location is that not only am I on the right side of the one-way system for the University, but I can now avoid the main road entirely: no fumes from queues of stationary vehicles, no traffic lights, fewer inconsiderate drivers. When I occasionally have to go into town to collect a parcel from the sorting office on my way to work, I'm almost surprised by the hectic riding conditions, even though I lived on that side of Lancaster for six years, and plunged into the traffic each day without a thought.

I'd hate to live drastically further from work. A. works in Southport, which is an hour away by motorway. Forty hours a month, just to and from work. A. enjoys driving, and says he doesn't mind the trip, but I could only regard that time as wasted, and I value time far more than money. S. works in Leeds. I don't know how long that takes. The distances aren't so great, but H's travel time around Warszawa can be considerable. The worst of all is my father's commute, of ~90 minutes each way by high-speed passenger ferry or 4-5 hours each way by car. That's the cost of living in seriously rural Norway!

My PhD fieldwork sometimes required me to cycle 9 miles in the middle of the night, in driving rain (because it was raining – if it had been dry, I wouldn't have needed to go), sometimes in rubber thighboots (don't get excited – they were heavily-patched, paint-and-cement-splattered waders), but that wasn't quite the mindless mundanity of a daily commute.
The worst I've done regularly was a nine-minute walk to the railway station, a twenty-minute train ride, then three more miles by bike; I occasionally cycled the full 14 miles just for some variety. On unlit rural lanes after dark in midwinter, that was... thrilling. All for a derisory wage; I lasted eleven months.


Siobhan works in Leeds. I don't know how long that takes.

At best, a five-hour round trip. At worst, seven-eight hours - most of which are spent waiting in Preston Station. And people say we lecturers have an easy life...

Posted by Siobhan at May 17, 2005 09:34 PM
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