My house is just 15 km from the facutly where I work. The fastest way to commute would be by car. Unfortunately, the stretch of road between the two towns is the busiest in Europe. While theoretically it takes 20 minutes to get from A(home) to B(work) and vice-versa, in practice this means leaving before 7 AM and returning after 7 PM, otherwise you spend an extra hour in traffic. And I hate being stuck in traffic. Plus, I don’t have a car.
Public transport is well-developed in small European countries and it takes just 15 minutes by train to get from home to work. But – I still need to get to and from the train station, so the total commuting time is more like 50 minutes. Also, the section of track between my home and my work is, again, the busiest in Europe. Every time there’s a glitch somewhere in the system, the travel time is dramatically affected – same effect as on the highway.
There is a bus connection, and its not as delays-prone as the train or the highway. The bus even stops a short walk from the faculty, so it is quite convenient. Unfortunately, the bus connection is not as frequent as the train and it is even slower, so it takes an hour to commute. Average speed of 15 kph – in the 21st century!
Fortunately, there is a solution – the bicycle. In good weather the route is a very enjoyable stretch of cycling. There are showers at the faculty, so the colleagues are spared the sweat smell. The down side is that my bicycle is rather old and crumbling, so that there is no time gain. But help is on the way! The university like many European employers, offers a so-called “bicycle plan“. I will spare you the details of the elaborate finacial construction, see the link if you’re interested in the details. Its sufficient to say that I can get a new bicycle for (almost) free. With a set of raingear and waterproof sidebags for my stuff I can cycle even in the small European winter. And if the weather turns really nasty – there’s always the bus. Or train. Or I can work from home.