Having just spent the best part of the last week at the Lib Dem Conference in Liverpool I was stunned at how many people wandered up and asked me how it was going. Stunned because I wasn't sure that anyone outside Cambridgeshire knew I'd given up my car/motorbike for a month. But I've discovered that Julian Huppert MP and I have made Page 2 of Lib Dem news. A few thought I was mad and swore they'd never be able to give up their cars ..... but a significant proportion were intrigued to know what had made me do it and what I'd learnt. A few just wanted to know if I'd given in and cheated under cover of darkness.
My intention hasn't been to wear a hair shirt doing this - more to show what it's like if you don't have easy access to transport. So I have had the odd lift (getting from Caldecote to Harston at night when 3 others are going from your village - it seemed sensible to accept a lift) - but the car is still sat on the drive continuing to collect a thin layer of dust, and the motorbike sits in the garage behind it. I can't say that I don't have the odd pang when the sun shines and I can only look at the Thruxton without actually getting it out and on the road. But she hasn't been out!
For the last two weeks I've been using the bus and (for Liverpool) the train. I realise that I'm lucky to be fit enough to walk a distance to get the bus and whilst I continue to lobby for a better local bus service, the penny has dropped that if I take the bus it's cheaper than putting petrol in the car - and much much quicker to get around the City. And I'm finally starting to "really" enjoy it.
The train was a new experience. It's been so long since I've taken one that the world of pre booked ticket deals has been a real revelation (as was the fact that Euston to Liverpool was £132 one way - never have I been more relieved to have done my homework in advance). I'm very much a novice but I've got the bug now so there'll be a bit more surfing before my next journey.
But at this stage of the month I can honestly say that I'm coming to a major mindset change. It's no longer a chore to get out my bike or walk to the bus stop - it's something I look forward to - albeit I have now bought a handbag sized umbrella and better waterproofs.
And Julian has suceeded on another issue - It took him 18 months to get me to do this - and a mere 3 weeks to agree to do the Oxford to Cambridge bike ride. I haven't specified which ride yet but I'm sure he'll sort that out soon too.
So just getting started it is!