Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Through the Letterbox

An Arriva booklet came tonight - with localised and helpful information for Whinfield, Firth Moor and Cockerton on routes and travel times, together with three discount vouchers for tickets.

Small beer? What am I blogging about this for? Well, it's a direct and welcome bit of publicity for bus services in the town. All too often it feels like the Council is having to do all the work promoting sustainable transport. To be fair, Arriva do try, although Stagecoach particularly seeming happy to sit on their hands and manage a gently declining number of passengers.

In the greater scheme of things - a few leaflets and worthy Council press releases are dwarfed by the relentless advertising juggernaut of the car industry, where every break on peaktime TV is anchored by a ad telling us that cars equal freedom/sex/social status. That's our "car culture".


Mike said...

I still can't believe that people will use a car day in day out to get to work. My bike ride to work is about 15 minutes at rush hour (and about 16 minutes the rest of the time). By car the same journey would take around 30 minutes during rush hour (and about 12 minutes the rest of the time).

(Walking is 35 minutes. The bus takes between 30 and 40 depending upon traffic and getting lucky on not waiting, but I can read on the bus.)

Darlington Councillor said...

Your point about time is critical, Mike.

Why - because as you probably know, the research the Council did as part of its Local Motion initiative showed that people greatly exaggerate the time they think it will take to make a journey by bus, bike or foot, whilst minimising the time by car for the same journey. This is one reason why people make the often irrational decision to go by car rather than a more sustainable mode.

I was pleased to see that the Arriva leaflet tonight gave estimated times for bus journeys around town. As part of our Cycling Demonstration Town project, the Council has got permission from the Department for Transport to erect signs on key cycle routes giving not time to the town centre, for instance, but the time it will take on average to cycle there. I think this approach is another really positive and imaginative way we can encourage people out of their cars.

Mike said...

Isn't it something like a 10% over-estimate for bike times and a 10% under-estimate for cars?

I'd noticed the bike route signs with times on. At first I wasn't sure about them, but on reflection they're a good idea, since "2 miles" seems like a daunting distance but "20 mins" sounds like a nice ride.

Once or twice a week, I cycle from the West End to Hurworth for work. It takes me about 25 minutes door-to-door, which is probably less than someone driving would need to allow in case the traffic was bad. I am probably faster than average, but there wouldn't be a huge difference in time for someone slower. In fact, once finding a parking spot is taken into consideration at both ends of the journey, the bike would probably be faster for most people.