Thursday, May 24, 2007

My other car is a bike

Who needs a 4x4 when you have a 2(legs)x2(wheels)? My "urban assault machine".

Helsingin Sanomat reports that second and third car ownership in a family is rapidly increasing in Finland. Numbers of cars in Finland are going up but the number of car-less households is pretty constant, as is population, hence more families own two.

It's always been something I've notice with living here - out of my friends and family in the UK second car ownership is the norm, only Londoners seems to go against the rule, but then the last time I drove in London it took me about 2 hrs to go from the south to west on the South Circular so who the hell wants to drive there? But in Finland people I know with two cars in household are a small minority. The difference is quite obvious for anyone who has driven, say, the M6 from Manchester to Birmingham on an average Friday afternoon, in comparison to the Lahti to Helsinki motorway on a summer Sunday evening when supposedly the masses are returning from their Mökki (summer cottages). The difference is about 100 kmph.

Scoop! Helsingin Sanomat finds a Helsinki traffic jam!

The research Hesari reports suggests that growth is being driven by people moving to the outer suburbs in search of affordable living space. This is exactly what I did last year, and the transport links aren't great - one bus an hour to downtown and the takes 45 minutes, unlike my former more inner suburb where there was a train at the local station every 20 minutes. But between the bus and my bike (900 kms done so far this year commuting), it's OK and I can feel morally smug about my contribution to quieter and safer streets, less emissions, and all that stuff whilst still eating donuts but not worrying quite as much about how fat I am. Fortunately we can't afford a second car because clearly when you do get one, karmic chaos follows:
"Families with just one car still make use of public transport, and they cycle and walk a fair amount. Kalenoja calculates that if there are two cars, cycling and use of public transport decline by about 50 per cent. The kilometres that are driven increase by about 75 per cent."

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