I spent more than half my life living in the United States, in the state of Nebraska. Farm country. Where towns were separated not by a five minute walk but rather a ten mile car ride. Until the last six years of calling Nebraska home, I live in small rural communities. No gas stations, no grocery stores, and no jobs. Everything was a commute to the city to get necessities for everyday living.
To do this, a car was needed. And being married meant that two cars were needed because usually both spouses worked, or even if they didn’t, the one needed transportation in case of emergencies. In my case, having two cars wasn’t enough. I had an emergency third car, for the unforeseen breakdown or flat tire. What money was saved living out in the country as far as taxes, was quickly eaten up by transportation expenses.
When I moved to England, I was in for a shock I had never experienced. Besides the cultural differences between our two countries, I was surprised that a car wasn’t considered a necessity. Next to London, Manchester is the largest city in England and has every method of transportation available.
My first experiences with mass transit was with buses. It got me everywhere I needed to go and I became quite comfortable knowing when buses would arrive and also what bus would get me to where I wanted top go. To go shopping locally? 358, 383, and 384. Hospital? 375 and 192. Manchester? 192 and odd 200s. Cancer Centre? 42 and 42A. Within no time, I could watch a bus approach the stop and know with certainty if it was the one I needed.
The bad part with buses is it stops so often that a 15 minute car ride could take a half hour by the bus. When I got a job in Manchester, taking a bus could mean being on the bus for an hour, depending on traffic. So, I was introduced to trains. They were the fastest method of travel available and could get me to my job quicker than a car. The only downfall was that it took me 25 minutes to walk to the train station. So, my daily commute before getting on the train was nearly an hour.
So, the next step in transportation was a bicycle. You can take bicycles on trains, so it was a way for me to cut down on my daily walk. A 25 minute walk has turned into an eight minute bike ride. The bicycle is an electric one, so I really don’t use much energy pedalling it.
At my job, I walk close to ten miles a shift on average, so this has helped save a little bit of my energy. When I was shopping around for a bike, more than one company said that an electric bike wasn’t an alternative for a bicycle, but rather it is an alternative for a car. Granted, I can’t go on long distant drives with it, but I can get groceries and other essentials with the rake that was provided with it. As far as taking up space, this bike is a folding one and can fit in even the smallest places.
Having not ridden a bicycle in over 40 years it took awhile for me to get my balance and confidence back, but now I just cruise the streets like a pro!
England has it all for transportation and I continue to explore the different ways to get from Point A to Point B. I’ve been on a propeller plane to get from Northern England to the Southern part. A whole half-hour flight! And the most enjoyable mode? River taxi’s. In London, on the River Thames, there are taxis that travel up and down the river to various points.
With the ease of using mass transit will I ever own a car again? I won’ say never but I really doubt it.