Friday, 30 May 2008

Running faster than you drive

This week I attended a 2-day conference in Bryanston. This meant commuting on the N3, which I usually try to avoid during peak times. I purposely left home VERY early to miss the major congestion; but even at 06h30 the stretch from Gilloolies to Marlboro is bumper-to-bumper. From Marlboro to Rivonia the flow is swift and I had little congestion from Rivonia (heading South and then West) to The Campus.

On Wednesday the conference finished at 16h30. I had to be in Edenvale by 18h00. From the moment I reached Rivonia (from 12th) it was s.l.o.w. As for the highway... it took me an hour to get from Rivonia on-ramp to the Modderfontein off-ramp. This is a distance of only 12 kilometres!

Thursday morning I got on the highway, heading North, 5-minutes earlier. It didn't make much difference and I again crawled until Marlboro. With the conference finishing at 16h00 I was hoping to beat the rush, choosing [optimistically] to take the highway again instead of stop-start driving through the suburbs.

It took 25-minutes to get from Rivonia onramp to where the N1 merges with the N3 South and a total time of almost 90 minutes to reach home (I ended up getting off at Modderfontein and traveling through Edenvale and Bedfordview).

My sanity could not do this everyday, as most of the commuters on this highway do.

Petrol currently costs R9.33/litre and is likely to go up by 40-odd cents again next week (diesel is over R10/litre). My car's fuel consumption is between 8l - 9.5l/100km (R88/100km) with stop-start highway driving; compared to 5.3 - 6.8l/100km (R52/100km) of open road driving (highway/suburbs).

Aside from the financial considerations, I had some thoughts.

  1. People live too far from work (I've had this one many times)
  2. Children go to schools far from home
  3. People complain they don't have enough time to exercise
  4. I can run faster than my car drives on the highway


If you live in the South and work in the North you have a long (distance and time) commute daily. I have an office meeting every Thursday morning. It is 20km from home to the office and takes me 40 to 50-minutes (if I leave home at 06h30). I drive through the suburbs and I only have to do this once a week; I would not tolerate this daily.

If I lived <10km>Solution: work from home, find a job closer to home or find a home closer to work.


One of the programmes mentioned during the conference is a "walking bus" initiated in the US by KIA (yes, the car people). Parents take turns to walk a "bus" of children to school to increase daily activity and decrease unnecessary driving to reduce carbon emissions. When I was in primary and high school the children all lived in the area of the school. I recall legislation when I was in primary school that you had to live within a defined zone to attend the school.

A walking bus is not feasible here - children commute large distances to go to school.

Solution: Put your child in a school closer to home or move closer to your child's school

Comment: It isn't always feasible or convenient to live close to work or school - especially with two adults under the same roof working in different areas.


No wonder people do not have enough time to exercise! Two to four hours spent in your car daily is a waste of time; time for exercise, partners, children, animals, friends, family, cooking... You need to sleep 7-8 hours a daily; you need to be at work for 8 to 9 hours daily. That leaves 7 hours. If three of these are taken up with driving... it means you have only four hours a day to get ready for work, shower, brush your teeth, eat breakfast, read the newspaper, cook dinner, eat dinner spend time with your family, watch telly, shower, brush your teeth, trim your toenails and go to sleep. No wonder there is no time for exercise! You don't even have time to live.


While crawling along the highway at the N1/N3 South intersection yesterday, I had a great idea for a campaign to promote running (less commuting and more living). Imagine a bunch of runners running in the shoulder of the fast lane on the highway, in peak hour traffic, wearing a t-shirt that says the following on the back: "I run faster than you drive. Change your lifestyle." Great campaign for Runner's World magazine too...

I count myself VERY FORTUNATE that I do not have to commute for hours daily. What this does mean is that I should be putting in more training time...


Anonymous said...

Some Americans on bikes tried this in a bit less formal style.

Crimanimalz -The Freeway Ride I

Anonymous said...

Yes, and it a perfect world, we would tolerate other races, recycle more, protect the environment, excercise more and eat less and ... and ....and ...and...and.... So count yourself very lucky that you don't have to sit in traffic every day or have to get up at 'sparrow fart' just to get to work on time.
But nice try anyway....