Many of us spend hours a day in transport. In cars, trains, boats, on bicycles and on foot. Why? That is very simple: we want to do things, things cannot all be in the same place, so we want to get to other places. And if we spend so much time in transport, we should make the most of it, shouldn’t we? That is probably why we want to make phone calls in our cars, write articles on the train, and listen to music on our bikes. But this is all external entertainment. It becomes more interesting if we just experience transport in itself. And we can, we do it all the time without noticing or mentioning it.
When we have to go to places to do things, we can consider taking different modes of transport. If we tell someone why we chose a certain mode, we do that in terms of time, money, and ease of use. How boring. Just like we rationalise other decisions, we rationalise transport decisions. Take for example a car driver who considers to take the train for a certain trip. He despises of the train, and loves driving a car. But he will tell that the train takes longer, the car is already paid for, and stands in front of the door. Despite the fact that train tickets are often cheaper than fuel, why doesn’t he admit that he just loves driving a car? Another example. To get to my working place at a university, I had to climb quite a steep hill. I went by bike, being supported by the fact that the bus was slower. Again: boring. I would have been better if I had just admitted that I love cycling uphill. At some sunny days it felt like being on a holiday in the south of France.
Fortunately, we don’t all experience transport in the same way. In fact, there are people who find it relaxing to be in a queue. They experience it as a moment of peace between the stress at the office and the evening rush hour at home when they have small children. I write this down as if these people are an exception. Personally, I hate driving a car on busy roads. But it also seems to be the common perception that people hate to be in queues. Another common perception. In the Netherlands, the maximum speed on some motorways was recently increased from 120 kph to 130 kph. Everybody knows that this does not help to solve congestion, and increases environmental pollution and the risk on traffic accidents. The main argument seemed to be: this measure coincides with how people experience driving. Interesting. Recently we drove 120 kph on a 130 kph road (we refuse to adapt to the new measure), and overtook most of the vehicles on that road. As I said, fortunately, we are not all the same.
How we experience transport influences how we feel. And that again influences how we think, how we do things, and how we react to other people. And since transport is taking much of our time, it is well worth to consider how we experience that time. So next time you get to a meeting you can say, I took the train, because I love watching the landscape go by. It inspires me.