Today was a very special day for me: I drove to work. I work in the city center of Stockholm and driving to the office had obviously never been an option I considered (I enjoy biking too much to commute differently) but since I had to be at the office early (07:00 is early in my world) and cannot currently ride my bike I decided to give it a shot. I could not have been more wrong.
It’s a 9.5 kilometer drive from home to the office (mainly on expressway) and I thought it would not take me more than 15 minutes to cover the distance if I’d leave home at 06:45. Well… it took me 25 minutes which is as much as when I commute with public transportation and slightly longer than when I’m riding the bike. I was wrong to think traffic would be running smoothly at 06:45: Stockholm’s roads are congested this early and remains so for a couple of hours (it gets better after 09:00 I’d say).
As I was slowly moving I realized how frustrating and stressful it must be to drive to and from work in such conditions every single day. I know some people don’t have the option and need a vehicle as a work tool (nurses and doctors, police officers, …) but having said that, no one will ever persuade me that, in a city as small as Stockholm (population of 2.2 million for the metropolitan area), those people can be so numerous that they cause traffic jams. I would not believe it was bad luck either and all bike and public transit commuters decided to drive – as I did – today.
The picture above is from an article (in Swedish) published on Aftonbladet.se in October last year titled “Over two weeks in traffic jams – each year” and as one could guess the article is all about drivers in Stockholm spending more than two (working) weeks (96 hours) a year in traffic congestion. It took me one car drive to be frustrated enough to write about it and to know it was the first and last time I sat behind the wheel to go to work.
After reading that article I’ve got to ask all drivers out there: Seriously, why are you so hard on yourself? Why do you keep on like that? Don’t you think it would be nicer to sit on a train reading a good book or to ride a bike and get some fresh air?