Michal ZimmermannPieces of knowledge from the world of GIS.

A Month of Commuting on My Own

I’ve been sort of living in Brno for the last 7 years (college included). It’s quite a hilly city, with lots of cars, very good public transportation system and ever-improving cycling infrastructure. All these years I was using trams, buses and trolleybuses to get myself from one place to another.

These are all great, because:

These all suck, because:

My period card expired on March 8 and I decided not to renew it. Why? See the list above. As I don’t have a car and I work at the far end of the city, I can either ride a bike or run to work. Ask me how it’s been for the first month? Not bad at all.

Figure: March Strava log.

Figure: April Strava log.

What’s so great about commuting?

Not so long ago I considered commuting a waste of time. It took me 40-50 minutes to get to work and about the same to get back home. That’s 1-2 hours not being productive, not doing anything at all actually, just changing places.

That’s a terrible mistake to do. It’s much better to see this time as an opportunity to do that little extra for yourself - walk, run, ride. Even though it takes me a bit longer than public transport (showering and dressing included), it leaves me with totally different state of mind in the end - it just starts me up (hello Rolling Stones).

You can go for a ride right from work. That’s priceless.

As a by-product I started to care more about what I eat and when I eat it. I actually spend time cooking so I get enough food during the day. Something I didn’t do before, because you can always buy something sweet before the bus comes, right?

Figure: Daily commute in Brno: bike in pink, run in green. See the full version.

What’s not so great about commuting?

Weather, especially in spring and autumn, often sucks. Sometimes I come to work soaking wet, nothing a hot shower wouldn’t fix though. Someone still needs to clean the bike…

Traffic sucks in the evening. I get up before six, leave home before half past six, thus avoid heavy traffic. Riding a bike home in the evening is threatening sometimes and a bit of mutual respect between pedestrians, cyclists and drivers would do.

Cycling paths sometimes end right before the big crossroads. Often drivers use parts of the network as parking lanes, which puts you in danger suddenly.

Other cyclists, skaters, people walking their dogs, little kids usually don’t care about you at all. You better don’t get distracted if you want to get home safe and sound.

Books are hard to read on the bike.

Does it tell you something about your city?

I guess the city you see on foot or from atop a saddle is completely different than the one seen from a bus or a car.

Is it rather car or bike friendly? Do you feel at risk riding a bike or running? Is it faster to run/ride or drive? Does your city actually want you to leave your car at home at all, or has it been designed for cars?

River seems to be blessing when your city has one (unless flood strikes, different story). If done right, its shores might become one of the most beautiful parts of the city. Something Brno needs to catch up with other cities.

I hope one day I’ll get up and see Brno changing in front of me. Just like Paris is right now. We all die in the end, so why not to take a walk before we do?