A shoe for all seasons

A pew for all seasons

A queue for all seasons

Readers of my 'Travel stories' in the Down the Lane Blog will know I can tend to pick on our Public Transport companies. Not because of privatisation, but on some of the general interferences to a peaceful way of life!

However, what harm can a swift walk of say 2 miles to the shops do to you - nothing I'd say, unless you're spending all of that time breathing in the fumes of high octane eating cars which are too big for the owners needs!

What Public Transport can do for you is a better sense of discipline. You know what time you've got to be at the bus stop, railway station etc. and you plan your excursion accordingly. Whereas, by car it's "I'll leave in 5 minutes", then half an hour later...etc.etc.
The problem lays in the fact that Transportation is now ruled by the car and bus services for one have been trimmed and trimmed to virtual non-existance, mainly in rural and semi-rural areas.

Walking is obviously the cheapest option of all, just a comfortable pair of shoes and that's it. But if you have to commute by Bus to your business, say 4 miles away, it will probably cost you around £4 there and back. Going in the car will cost you just over £1, but then there's the parking and by Moped, about 30p, but no parking costs. In that respect, the buses and trains are not a cheap option.

For example, if I paid to go to Southampton for 7 days on the train (I don't because I'm lucky and have a free 'retired personnel pass') it would cost me a whopping £77 !!!!
If I were going for only 5 days, about £34.

The above journey by car is 290 miles there and back. In my old Ford Fiesta it used to cost me about £23 - plus I could take another couple of people for that!

At first glance it would seem that the car wins the day, but most Train and Bus Operating Companies do various discount schemes.
There are Cards for 'Young Persons', 'Senior Citizens', 'Students', 'Family' and many more, all of which have savings (subject to conditions) of up to a third the normal price
Rail tickets to London and other major cities can be brought cheaply and have the Underground, Metro and buses included.
Often it's cheaper buying a season ticket if you're doing the same journey more than a few times a week and this also extends over the weekend for leisure purposes as well.

Certainly I would find it difficult without wheels of some description. The last bus back here from Ashford is at 6.35pm and there aren't any on Sundays. A healthy 4 mile walk maybe, but not with 3 bags of shopping and a dodgy back!

Even so, the general health benefits are extremely good.

I am a slow walker, but I never walk backwards.
- Abraham Lincoln

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Regular participation in physical activity (like walking) is associated with reduced mortality rates for both older and younger adults (US Dept of Health 1996). In other words, walkers live longer!

In particular, walking has a high impact on cardiovascular disease. Fit and active individuals have around half the risk of cardiovascular disease compared to unfit inactive people. This level of risk is similar to smoking, high blood pressure or high cholesterol in causing heart disease.

Fit walkers are less likely to fall and suffer injuries such as hip fractures because the bones are strengthened; less likely to sustain injury because joints have a better range of movement and muscles are more flexible; less prone to depression and anxiety; tend to be good sleepers; and are better able to control body weight.

For general health, experts recommend accumulating a total of 30 minutes of brisk walking on most, preferably all days of the week.

(Sources: US Dept of Health 1996, UK Dept of Health 2000, Health Education Authority 1996)