We live in the West End. Since Edinburgh is such a compact city, anywhere in the city centre is within walking distance and we are near several bus routes, the tram and Haymarket station. (We are not, alas, near a telephone exchange that will allow us to have fibre broadband at home, but that is a whole other grievance.) I have wondered for a while whether I really need a car, and certainly the cycle leader of the household manages fine with no driving licence – now that he is recovering a little and getting back on two wheels.
I fear that I am internal-combustion-engine habituated. Apart from my cargo bike adventure a few months ago, I don’t tend to think of carrying loads on my bike beyond my luggage when we go cycle touring or a bit of shopping. Since the decluttering has continued in stages (the cycle leader has been tackling tools and his study recently), I have made lots of trips to the recycling centre by car. Today we had a load of cardboard packaging and a dead rice cooker and with a bit of careful packing and some ingenuity with bungees, we managed to fit it all into panniers or on the rack of my bike (see photos). It seemed like a lot of bulk when we started, but it didn’t feel particularly heavy once we were underway, although the cardboard did force me forward on my saddle a little and I was glad to be rid of it on the way back. Of course, to really do any environmental good we need not to have so much material to discard in the first place, so nothing to feel smug about in cycling with the recycling, but it made me think a bit about how many more motorised journeys I could avoid.
I have used my bike regularly to commute to work for several years, but only occasionally to travel between meetings during my working day. My usual reason for not using the bike during the day is a combination of time, comfort and the need to be presentable at the other end: cycling in work clothes is not particularly comfortable; if I cycle at all quickly then I will arrive dishevelled and changing clothes takes up yet more time. Some people manage it routinely, though. I wonder whether I could be cleverer about this and find more ways to use the bike instead of taking a bus or, worse yet, a taxi. If I could make more use of the bike during a working day, it might even be worth investing in a folding bike for even more flexibility on the travel front – but now I’m in the dangerous territory of justifying yet another bike.
Things to think about here. I really do not need a car, but I am used to the convenience, especially for the out of town journeys to places that are awkward by public transport. Might be worth considering joining the City Car Club or using hire cars for those journeys and doing more by bike. And (another justification – wait for it) getting my own cargo bike or a really good bike trailer for load carrying.