How would your commute into work look if the bike was never invented?

Two female cyclists wait at the traffic light

Say for one horrible moment you couldn’t use your bike to get into work. How would your commute look?

Admittedly, my previous commute wouldn’t have been too bad. It would have been a 10 minute walk to London Bridge station, followed by a short ride on the northern line, switching over to central and getting out at Chancery Lane. Then I’d walk another 8 minutes to the office. Overall, around 10 minutes longer than on the bike.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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28 Responses to How would your commute into work look if the bike was never invented?

  1. Simon 18/11/2011 at 9:18 am #

    2 minutes walk to Barbican Tube, 10 minute trip to Euston Square then 2 minutes walk to the office. Tube’s generally pretty quiet as it’s going the opposite direction to most people.

    Fairly cushy for a London commute and just as quick as cycling, but cycling wins for being cheaper and more fun…

  2. Guido 18/11/2011 at 9:54 am #

    A 267 bus for 30 minutes into Chiswick (after up to a 10 minute wait), then changing and another bus ride on the 237 to White City of 20 minutes, so about an hour if I get everything just right.

    Or 35 minutes on a bike…

  3. Steven Kelly 18/11/2011 at 10:52 am #

    Drive 5 miles to the station 15mins, park 5mins. Train to Waterloo (this I do now anyway)45mins, tube to Canary Wharf 25mins. Total 90mins on a good day. On my Bike about 90mins every day.

    Mostly I love cycling and dislike driving and tube travel. There is also the cost saving of Fuel, parking and tube fare.

  4. Ashleigh 18/11/2011 at 11:24 am #

    When I had my bike pinched earlier this year I was forced back onto the tube (a half-hour walk to get there, then half an hour riding it, on a good day). At first it felt very grim, but I was soon lulled into the boring rhythm of it – the time just passed in a senseless blur, and in a way, I enjoyed a brief respite from the sweatiness and scariness of my cycle commute. Other alternatives were catching the bus (about an hour) or running (never actually tried this, but will do it one day. It’d take at least two hours though, I think!)
    But then when I got a new bike and re-entered the fray – a fifty-minute ride each way – I immediately felt at home and realised I’d been a damn fool to think that any other way could’ve been better.

  5. Carolyn 18/11/2011 at 11:24 am #

    10min walk to bus stop, 10min. ride to Tooting Bec tube, then the northern line to Bank, change onto Central line to Bethnal Green, plus another 10min walk. Crazy as I am, I prefer my 22ml round commute by bike, in place of the overcrowded stuffy tube, which takes me approx. the same time!

  6. ianrauk 18/11/2011 at 11:38 am #

    20 minute walk or bus to Orpington Station. Train to Lewisham, Onto the DLR to Greenwich. The 10 minute walk to office in Deptford. Takes about hour and 20. Much quicker by bike.

  7. Alan Moore 18/11/2011 at 11:42 am #

    About the same time, but stuck in someone’s armpit on the tube!

  8. Nick 18/11/2011 at 11:47 am #

    Five-minute walk to the bus stop
    Five to 10-minute journey to Manor House
    27-minute journey to South Ken (according to TFL – more like 35-40 most mornings…)
    5-minute walk to another bus stop
    10-15 minute journey to Battersea Bridge

    Chuck in 10 minutes to get in and out of the tube and waiting for buses for good measure.

    So at a conservative estimate, 1hr2 all in all. About 25 minutes longer than covering the 10ish miles by bike. And loads more frustrating.

  9. David 18/11/2011 at 11:48 am #

    2 minute walk to bus stop, 25 minutes from Stoke Newington to Kings Cross by bus (73 or 476), then 15 minute walk up York Way. On my bike it’s 24 minutes every day, at no cost (couldn’t afford to commute every day anyway), and a totally liberating experience – wouldn’t swap it for the world.

  10. PaulM 18/11/2011 at 11:53 am #

    Normally I “multimode” – I ride my Brompton down to the station, fold it up on the train and then unfold/ride from Waterloo to the office. Total ride is about 3 miles each way so not long-distance.

    This week I have been grounded due to an operation last week on my shoulder – probably in my view a long-term consequence of an accident over a year ago when a taxi passed me at a junction and turned left across my path, and then drove away as soon as he saw me pick myself up. (Needless to say, no-one got his plate or badge number)

    I have had to walk from Waterloo, which is no great hardship but adds a bit to my journey time and is just not as much fun. At the home end it means calling home for a lift as a 30 minute walk to and from the station just adds too much to the overll journey time.

    I just hope the surgeon clears me to start riding again when I see him next week.

  11. mark culmer 18/11/2011 at 11:56 am #

    smelly, crowded Bakeloo line from Willesden Junction – too hot & smelly people. Journey time 30-40 mins, then 5 min walk from Embankment to the Strand.

    Lots of headphone noise – fing annoying!!!

    Or, a run to work – 6 mile journey, along canal, then hyde park

  12. Neil Deadman 18/11/2011 at 1:14 pm #

    10 minute walk to Southfields station, ~16min ride on District line to Earl’s Court, ~10min ride to Turnham Green with another 10 minute walk afterwards. Including changing platforms etc door to door take me 45 – 50 minutes by tube. nearly 20 minutes longer than by bike.

    I occasionally run it home, which takes me around 5 minutes longer than by tube, but walking it totally would be around 1hr 45mins.

  13. Steve in New York 18/11/2011 at 1:30 pm #

    I’d go from a 12 minute bike ride to a 5 minute walk to the subway. THen a 10 minute ride, But being as I work nights when the trains run once every 30 minutes, if I miss a train, I might have toi wait half an hour in the station. Or else it’s a 45 minute walk to work.

  14. Kerena 18/11/2011 at 1:42 pm #

    5 minutes walk to train station at Forest Gate, 5 minute train journey (assuming trains on time & no leaves on line etc) to Stratford, change to underground where most convenient route is one stop on Central Line to Mile End & then on to District Line for half an hour or so to Sloane Square. 5-10 minute walk to office. Generally about an hour door to door, but like Carolyn, I’m much happier with my 24 mile round trip on my bike – which could take about 50 minutes if CS2/Bow Roundabout were safe, but takes about 1 hour 10 because I choose to ride the towpaths & stay safer!

  15. Martyn 18/11/2011 at 1:48 pm #

    Mine feels so slow without the bike. At the moment it’s a ~35min bike ride. Via public transport it’s easily between 45-60mins.

    It would be a 5min walk to the tube> 10 min tube> 15 min train> 15min bus ride> 5min walk to the office. And this is all dependent on things running smoothly of course. it has been known to take 1hr30mins or longer when the train is delayed.
    The journey itself isn’t too bad, just slow with lots of changes. You might be able to tell it’s against the commuter flow, so I don’t have to smell too many armpits

  16. Patrick Gray 18/11/2011 at 1:48 pm #

    I work in different locations every day, so any other means of transport would be a nightmare.

    PS. I’m also a cycling instructor and so wouldn’t have a job that I love.

  17. PaulR 18/11/2011 at 3:39 pm #

    I live in King’s Cross and work in the City, so a commute without the bike would be nice and easy. I could walk (30min max) or get any of 4 buses (17, 45, 46 or 63). I ride into work because I enjoy it. Getting on the bike wakes up my senses and makes me feel more positive about the day, even if the ride only takes 10 minutes. My work has decent secure bike parking and we have a gym with changing rooms and showers, so it’s all nice and easy.

    My girlfriend on the other hand works in Bexley and therefore has roughly a 90 minute commute (bus, train, bus, walk). I say roughly, because depending on traffic, the busses and the trains, it can be anything from 75 minutes to 2 hours each way. It’s about 15 miles through central london and I can comfortably get there in 90 minutes (taking things relatively easy). SHe is more than physically capable of doing this as well, but cycling in London is just that bit too scary for her. The danger that she perceives means that she just won’t cycle in London and therefore has to put up with a rather soul destroying commute.

  18. Sue 18/11/2011 at 4:38 pm #

    20 minute walk to Whitton station, 30 minutes on the train to Waterloo, 25 minutes tube to Marylebone, it takes about an hour and 20 as opposed to an hour and 5 or 10 on the bike, depending on route. However, with the terrible accidents recently, and the worsening attitude of motorists, I have become quite nervous on the bike, especially around lorries and junctions, and am finding excuses not to ride, which is a real shame as I do love it normally.

  19. Jeneveve 18/11/2011 at 5:21 pm #

    About forty minutes, via the Northern and Victoria lines. It takes almost the same amount of time via bike as by tube so the main difference is that if I was tubing everyday I’d be fatter…

  20. Steve 18/11/2011 at 11:27 pm #

    had to let the train take the strain this summer due to being hit by car on commute home along green lanes badly broken arm. 5mins walk to oakleigh park overground 25mins ride to essex park and 10mins walk to office. same time by bike, car takes a little longer. Back on the bike now missed all the best weather this year though.

  21. Andreas 19/11/2011 at 8:25 am #

    Very interesting to read that many people’s commutes would be roughly the same time but they simply prefer the pleasures of taking the bike and want to avoid the public transport. Thanks for the comments everyone!

  22. Alan McWliams 20/11/2011 at 10:01 am #

    I would run to work, the route of my shortest cycle 8 miles

  23. debencyclist 20/11/2011 at 1:15 pm #

    Reading all these comments I feel really lucky to work from home in Suffolk and to be able to ride just for fun, not because I have to get to work in the big city day in day out. How different a cycling experience that would be. Without wishing to sound patronising well done all of you for sticking at it.

  24. Juliette Dyke 20/11/2011 at 2:48 pm #

    Cycling to and from the station along the Thames path is the best part of my commute. The rest of the commute is just crowded, expensive and stressful, but my 15 min cycle morning and evening allows me to unwind, notice the changing seasons, and get some exercise. If I didn’t have my bike, I’d have to rely on a very unpredictable bus service to get home, so it actually makes my travelling time shorter too.

  25. veryrarelystable 21/11/2011 at 5:54 pm #

    Without bike: 2 minute walk to Stepney Green tube station, 10 minutes wait for train, 50 minutes on Hammersmith and City Line (TFL claim 35, but it’s never anywhere near this quick as it stops and waits at junctions at Aldgate, Baker Street and Edgware Rd), 5 minutes walk from Westbourne Park to office. Total a little over 1 hour, if the tube is working well, but it frequently isn’t.

    With bike, 50 minutes, but would have to add a shower at work, so that takes me to a little over an hour again. Thus roughly the same in time. 8½ miles there, so 17 miles round trip, but lots of traffic lights.

    Advantages of cycling: a lot fitter, more control over my punctuality, cheaper, sometimes need to travel on job around London a little where having my bike gives me more flexibility, more comfortable. Disadvantages of cycling: some scary moments, weather can be unpleasant (but it’s been a brilliant November so far), the odd puncture (many fewer than tube delays), the odd obnoxious driver (but not many).

    I don’t cycle in snow or ice. Rain, even torrential, is okay though.

  26. Sue 23/11/2011 at 11:24 am #

    I have a couple of options, but for reliabilty of timing, and the vague chance of getting a seat on the way home, the mixed mode train-Brompton works well, though the traffic in places is challenging (Parliament Square, anyone?).

    Without bike – 20-30 min walk or bus wait/bus to Feltham station, 35mins to Vauxhall, 5mins change to the Victoria Line, 5min journey 2 stops to Victoria, 10 min walk to office on Grosvenor Place. So 1.5 hours all in, give or take a bit.

    On the way home, reversing that route means playing sardines on the train at Vauxhall, so I tend to walk down to Waterloo (30 mins) or get the 148 bus (anything from 15 to 30 minutes depending on traffic, tendency to be smelly and crowded!), then walk from the County Hall stop, down Belevedere Road (envying all the cyclists on the way), and up over the footbridge into Waterloo. Tube to Waterloo from Victoria is a bit of a faff so not worth it (2 stops, transfer, 1 stop – you might as well walk).

    Sometimes I get the (often crowded and smelly) District Line back to Richmond and ‘catch up’ the train there, but that takes a good 30-35 minutes and its standing all the way.

    Using the Brompton cuts my home-station part by at least half – to 10 minutes – and is easier at night to get to Waterloo (though I really hate Parliament Square). Vauxhall to Victoria isn’t too bad though, but sooner or later there will be strikes/signal problems and that is when the Brompton, or any bike, comes into its own.

    • Sue 23/11/2011 at 11:26 am #

      PS – I’d think about cycling the whole way if I thought the CS from Hounslow to Hyde Park Corner was going to be anything other than repainting blue the existing off road cycle lane along the A4 (complete with the side road conflicts), and the main road one down the Chiswick High Road. We have showers and great cycle parking here so I am blessed in that regard.

  27. arallsopp 29/11/2011 at 12:33 pm #

    According to TFL’s journey planner, the quickest way is:

    - a 4 minute walk to Marden Avenue
    - a 13 minute bus ride to Addington villa
    - a 3 minute walk to the tram
    - a 13 minute tram ride to East Croydon
    - a 9 minute overground to Clapham Junction
    - a 12 minute overground to Chiswick Station
    - a 6 minute bus ride to Chiswick Town Hall
    - a 2 minute walk to the office.

    TFL reckons the journey time is an hour and 40 minutes, so thats a pretty even split of 50/50 waiting in the rain versus travelling. On a bike its somewhere between an hour and an hour and five minutes. 15 mins more in the rain, but a good half hour quicker, cheaper and a fair whack simpler! :)

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