Alternatives to Public Transport in London
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Walking or cycling to work is nothing new, but these healthy and environmentally friendly modes of transport are set to become increasingly popular after the government pledged a £2 billion investment in creating pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements for pedestrians and cycle- and bus-only corridors.
In addition, the government already funds a number of schemes, for example Bike2Work, which allow employees to purchase bicycles and equipment pre-tax and National Insurance, saving them up to 42% of the cost. This helps employees embrace an active lifestyle, while positioning employers as having a vested interest in their people’s health and wellbeing. However, if faced with a long commute or when the weather’s bad, people might revert to public transport so uptake could depend on distance and the season in many cases.
For those who see owning as onerous, there are a number of companies offering on-street bike hire. From TFL Santander bikes to dockless e-Bikes – Lime, Jump and Freebike – flexible hourly and daily rates are ideal for those who live and work in the city, but limited in terms of where you can start and finish your journey beyond Zones 1 and 2. Cycling is environmentally friendly, ULEZ charge-free, good for your health and easy on your wallet – but location, the presence of cycle routes and the weather will determine whether or not they’re right for you.
When a bicycle just isn’t fast or convenient enough, there’s the next step up: a scooter or motorcycle. AutoTrader reported a 291% increase in enquiries to moped retailers compared to 2019, and it’s certainly convenient – it’s less tiring than pedalling or walking and, of course, allows riders to overtake stopped traffic. However, these vehicles come with their own set of challenges. The first is the initial investment, from purchasing and insuring the vehicle itself to completing compulsory basic training (CBT), buying protective gear, finding a motorcycle bay and taking out an insurance policy.
Challenging the traditional car hire model, there are several car sharing services on offer. The Zipcar for Business model gives users access to vehicles for both Roundtrip and one-way journeys (Flex), meaning employees can get to that all-important meeting and back again simply and easily without having to carry heavy luggage or equipment or having to worry about the cost of a taxi. Then there are peer-to-peer rental companies, such as HiyaCar that lets members of the public rent their private vehicles to others, allowing them to earn money from an asset that stands idle 90% of the time.
As with car sharing, when it comes to saving on expenses such as paying for insurance, maintenance and parking, hiring a car for a short period of time can seem like an attractive option. However, fleets can get booked up in advance, so it might not always be the best route if the ability to be flexible is a high priority for you. In addition, costs can increase significantly if you plan to collect the car at one destination and drop it off at another. Always be sure to check what’s covered by each car hire company’s insurance policy, as this can differ significantly between providers.