April 06, 2003


I've changed jobs and now travel 20 miles to work instead of 2.5. An increase of 800%

My journey consists of all the types of road. A bit of motorway, Dual carriageway, A Roads, B Roads and congested towns roads.
After a fortnight of this new 'commuting' I think it's time to comment on how my ST1300 (and me) copes with the journey.

My previous journey took longer by bike than car because of the time it takes to get 'togged up'. My new journey is quicker by bike including getting changed because though the Pan is wide I can still get through the traffic quicker than in my car. In the morning as I'm quite early there's little traffic until the final two miles. I travel home between four and half-past, just before the rush hour starts properly and the journey takes the same time both ways, though there's much more traffic on the way home.

I was late leaving one evening and in the height of the rush hour I took less time getting home? I think it was because the rush our drivers allowed room for bikes where the pre-rush drivers didn't.

There's been a couple of hairy moments. A bus driver decided that bikes can move sideways when stationary, so he tried to come down the nearside to get to his bus stop two seconds earlier. It's a good job the paint on the panniers isn't any thicker! He stopped before he reached the mirrors, when I waved. He might have stopped sooner if I'd banged on his window, but I couldn't quite reach that high.
The most serious was Mr On-The-Phone. Loads of traffic, wandering about phone in one hand, scratching his head with the other. When I tried to wake him up with a 'beep' on the horn he promptly slammed his brakes on! He'd no idea what was going on around him. There should definitely be a stiffer penalty for driving whilst on the phone. It should be classed as driving without due care and attention at minimum.
There's also been the normal drivers not seeing an enormous silver bike with it's lights on in a queue of traffic situation. Fortunately in the really congested bit I'm never going more than 20 so I'm able to stop ok. I'm going to get a day-glow yellow waistcoat. It's the only way, dress like a police man. Then they may notice.

I was concerned on my first journey that the Pan may be too wide to give me any benefit in the heavier traffic. I was wrong, as my experience of the roads improves I'm finding more than enough space to filter through. Only on a couple of occasions has the width been a problem then, I just let a narrower bike go through, the gap generally widens as the cars pull in a bit. Some car drivers can be very considerate, which has surprised me as no one seems to give an inch to other cars.

On the whole travelling to and from work on the Pan is a pleasure. I always arrive at my destination less wound up (even allowing for hairy moments) because I feel I'm always making progress.

May be more people should travel to work on a bike, not just to reduce congestion, but also to reduce stress!

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