‘After flooding and fatberg, motorists face misery again,’ runs the doom-and-gloom headline.
But seriously – how much sympathy are we supposed to have?
Way too many people drive into this cramped city day in day out. Traffic edges from queue to queue around the city, stop-start, its polluting cocktail of emissions seeping into the city like cyanide running through veins.
Some, presumably, “have to”. But what about the vast majority who don’t? Wedded to their cars, they continue to drive, hopelessly, without apparently ever considering the alternatives. What goes on inside their heads?
I had a meeting recently with someone who drives in to work in Headington every day on the same route. He arrived 45 minutes late for our 9am appointment with a “Sorry. Dreadful traffic” ‘ I smiled, not unaccustomed myself to occasional tardiness – always my own dilly-dallying fault. However, I thought: “But you ARE the traffic and you make this trip every single day. The park-and-ride bus stops less than 100 metres from your office. And what about cycling?”
But it wasn’t that kind of a meeting. Sad though to see a perfectly able commuter fail to grasp the nettle.
Back on Cowley Road I was musing on people’s poor decision-making. Now don’t get me wrong – I am not anti-car. Far from it! I love my car and enjoy using it, but not in the city.
My reverie was broken by a rather beautiful sight: a guy in his 50s with a short grey goatee on a long, low Bullitt cargo bike.
He was stuck in traffic the same as all the cars and buses, but he stood apart, a solution, not a part of the problem. His face grimaced against the fumes, but when I caught up with him making a delivery to BeeLine Bikes, I realised what a happy and lucky man he is.
Steve Reynolds formed mercurycyclemessengers.co.uk after seeing the glut of small vans delivering single-packages to city-centre destinations. Our medieval city wasn’t designed to cope with 1,000+ couriers per day on top of regular traffic – and this is where Mercury Messengers step in. Steve does fast, green deliveries in the city for a fraction of the price of a van courier.
The day I saw him he was delivering 100 kilos of coffee from Witney to cafes in Oxford. There are some great photos of his laden Bullitt cargo bike on his Facebook page. These beasts can carry a washing machine and even small sofas. In Holland, Germany and Denmark, DHL uses Bullitts to deliver in cities similar to Oxford, using a cargo hub near the edge of the city and cargo bikes to deliver within.
Oxford will no doubt need to do the same very soon.
What a great business idea.
Jealous? Not half!
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