I get the train to work most days and use a Giant Halfway folding bike to get to and from the stations. After a late shift the trains are few and far between, one every half an hour, and to get home at a reasonable hour means I have exactly 24 minutes between my shift finishing and the 22:54 leaving the station.
The equation for this little task goes thus: L = d/(t-2f) x 12K. Where L is the likelihood of me making it, d is distance, t is time, f is the faff time it takes me to get my coat on, run down the stairs, into the underground car park, unlock the bike, turn my lights on and be let out of the security gates; and also the time it takes walking on the pavement to get into the station, across the concourse, find my ticket, down the ramp, wait for the lazy, jobsworth ticket collector to stop chatting to his mate and open up the gate, along the platform and onto the train, all -30secs because “doors will be closed 30seconds before departure time to guarantee a prompt departure”.
And then we get to the 12K part, and as anybody who lives in London will know, this stands for Red Ken, the good old Mayor of London himself; whose loves of traffic lights is second to none! His traffic calming measures, one way systems, bendy buses and random 1lane-2lane-3lane-1lane policies are so radical that no-one else in the world seems to be able to understand them enough to implement them, any of them…
So here stands my problem: 12 sets of Red Kens finest traffic lights between me and my destination, making L = about 0.33. But, to fight the red hand of Ken I have employed a much older philosophical approach, that of Karma. Tonight, at the second set of traffic lights, desperate to make the train, the lights were red and pedestrians were waiting to cross. The little man turned green and they stood there looking at me.
“Little man green, people move feet, walk across road…” I barked patronisingly. Not a good move, the next 2 sets of lights were red for ages!! I wasn’t going to make it. Damn him!
Set 5 and again the lights were red. A pedestrian was waiting to cross so I pulled up slowly. He saw me and before stepping out bowed his head slightly and waved me through (like a proper gent).
“No, no, I insist” I replied with the same gesturing wave of my hand.
“Why thank you very much” he said politely, smiling as he crossed the road.
“My pleasure!” And I was on my way once more. Hallelujah! It was as if Moses himself was riding ET style on my handlebars – every single set of traffic lights turned green just as I approached and I sailed on up the road to reach the train with time to spare! Karma 1, Red Ken 0.
Labels: commute, non-cycling, story