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London commuters arriving stressed and late – unless they travel by bike

Cyclists and walkers found to waste less travel time

A poll of over 5,500 commuters across five major European cities has found that London commuters are late for work more often than those in any other major European city. This is despite a quarter setting off half an hour early each day in an attempt to guard against this. The majority of the city’s commuters also rated their daily travel as being more stressful than moving house.

The research, carried out by Ford, involved residents of London, Rome, Paris, Madrid and Berlin being questioned about their commute, reports The Independent. Trips into London were found to be the most unpredictable with 80 per cent of people arriving late for work at least once a month and 47 per cent late two or three times a month.

It seems this happens despite a quarter of Londoners attempting to guard against it by leaving half an hour early – wasting around five days of spare time a year in the process. However, while 93 per cent of people allow extra time for their commute because of frequent hold-ups, those who walked or cycled were found to waste less time each week.

The survey also found that London was the second toughest place to travel through. Commuters rated their daily travel more stressful than planning a holiday, being at work, moving house, dealing with money matters, or going to the dentist. However, almost 60 per cent of workers in Rome also felt that their trips were worse than a relationship breakdown.

Ford Europe’s sustainability, environment and safety engineering vice president, Andreas Ostendorf, said:

“For many people it can feel like they have done a full day before they have even set foot in the office.

“Society is becoming increasingly urban with cities growing in size and number, and we need a transport infrastructure that can keep pace with that expansion. Protecting the freedom of mobility requires more than just new train routes and roads. We all have to work together on a network of interconnected and sustainable solutions.”

A recently-completed 10-year study carried out by the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School and the Centre for Health Economics at the University of York found that cycling or walking to work makes people less stressed and more productive.

A total of 18,000 commuters across the UK were questioned of whom 73 per cent travelled to work by car, 13 per cent on foot, 11 per cent by public transport and three per cent by bike. People commuting by public transport were also found to be happier than those travelling by car, while a small group of people who had switched from commuting by car or public transport to more active modes of transport were also found to be happier following their switch.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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Airzound | 9 years ago

Yeah cycle commuting is fine until you get knocked down, seriously injured or killed. Then there are the punishment passes, the abuse, threats, the fear of assault, stuff being thrown at you and fuckwits trying to run you off the road.

There's one thing better than the cycle commuting and it is
motorbike commuting on a nice big bike. Even quicker and far less grief. I don't get any of the shit I encounter when I cycle to and from work it is stress free and total ear to ear grin factor. It is the quickest - public transport would take days literally as last bus back is 5pm so I would have to walk the remaining 12 miles home or take a taxi if I could find one out in the sticks plus it would cost a fortune. Car all the way can take easily more than 2 hours as the A14 and approach roads are gridlocked at peak times. But drive half way, park up, then cycle the rest whilst taking around 2 hours, means you still stay fit but spend 4 hours a day in total travelling, but I am seldom late. Riding my motorbike 1200cc Honda Blackbird at worst takes an hour if traffic is really really bad on the A14 as you have to filter slowly. If roads are clear i.e. late start or finish then I can do the journey in 25-30 minutes, literally door to door, which gives me hours and hours of extra time each day I would not otherwise have. Major grin factor.

So cycling has it's good points but it's NOT the panacea, the easiest or least stressful as this survey seams to suggest. Get a motorbike for the best commute.

hampstead_bandit | 9 years ago

the best thing about cycle commuting is that you hand the control over your journey back into your own hands (or legs!), rely than relying on someone else, or random events that afflict public transport

having no control over your journey when you need to be somewhere on time - for your daily job - is extremely stressful and frustrating as you are powerless to effect the outcome

the only stress I feel on my daily cycle commute through London is from interactions with dangerous, incompetent or negligent drivers, but that can be mitigated to some degree by the choice of route and a keen, constant awareness of those around you

ADaASasA | 9 years ago

For me it depends. I generally feel better after the hour or so cycle from Surrey into central London, but it can get pretty stressful from Zone 2 onwards. Overall though, it's the guarantee of knowing I'll be at work +/- 5 minutes from an hour that I love the most.

Jimbonic | 9 years ago

Yep, similar: 1 hr 15 to 3+ hrs by car, 1 hr 30 by public transport and 1 hr 20-40 by bike (depends on traffic!). I always go by bike, unless I really really need to wear a suit or have a massive amount of kit to transport. Then, I take public transport. I never drive - couldn't handle the frustration and ensuing stress!

congokid | 9 years ago

My 5-6 mile commute by bus or tube to work across central London is a 60-90 minute lottery, often fraught with stress as I wonder if I'll be in time for an early meeting. Luxuries such as boarding the first tube to arrive, or getting a seat on it, or having space to relax, are unthinkable.

Things are slightly better by bus - I can almost always get on board and find a seat, but it is slow, slow, slow, and the service often abruptly terminates for no obvious reason.

Taking the bike instead has transformed the journey, whose duration rarely varies beyond 30-35 minutes depending on whether I want to press on or take my time, into a reliable and stress-free experience. Knowing all the other benefits I am reaping along the way is another mood enhancer.

Jem PT replied to congokid | 9 years ago

Same here, Congokid. If I drive to work it can take anything from 50 mins to 3 hours. If I train/ tube/walk it takes 2 hours assuming no train/tube delays, or who-knows-how-long if there are delays. If I cycle it takes between 1 hour 36 and 1 hour 33 mins. The predictability is amazing, and most stress-relieving.

Paul_C | 9 years ago

more roads are NOT the solution... better allocation of space is.

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