Picture credit: Stuart Bailey

Back in our October 2019 issue, I wrote an article all about how being able to work flexibly made all the difference to my commute and working day.

A 30-minute later start and finish time halved my commute time because I was missing rush hour and not sat in queuing traffic.

So, it’s very fitting to be writing this article 18 months on following our If You Ask Me feature on travel. Because while COVID-19 has – through necessity – opened many employers’ eyes to the benefits of flexible working and staggered start/finish shift patterns, it’s interesting to note my bosses enabled me to work flexibly years ago and pre-pandemic.

After working from home again all this year up until mid-May, I was very excited to get back into unLTD HQ and see my colleagues ‘IRL’! While we had no issues getting each issue of unLTD online or out in print while working remotely, it is just not the same as being in the office working as a team – plus I really missed the banter!

I was a little hesitant about getting the bus and tram again, I have to admit – but later starts meant my commute was just as short and simple as ever. Plus I was reassured to see bus drivers insisting people wore masks when they boarded, unless exempt, and tram conductors ensuring passengers sat at a safe distance.

I also enjoyed my first train journey to visit family in Nottingham in June. I did not read one page of library book as I was simply enjoying the sensation of travelling and looking out the window at the countryside and towns and villages whizzing by.

During the first lockdown I had the pleasure and privilege of interviewing – via Zoom, of course – SCR Active Travel Commissioner Dame Sarah Storey while the country was reacting and adapting to COVID-19. Our cover star was keen to encourage unLTD readers to ‘lock in’ the active travel behavioural changes seen during the pandemic for a healthier, more active future.

“Businesses should join their voice with the army of people saying what they want in terms of pop-up cycle ways or trial infrastructure,” Dame Storey told me in June 2020. “The more councils know people want this, the easier it becomes to implement because it’s a big balancing act between businesses with huge amounts of equipment they can only ever transport in their vehicle and others who could walk or cycle.”

She’s quite right. Painters and decorators and plumbers and plasterers cannot take their tools of the trade on a bus or a tram and then walk to their customers’ homes.

But office workers like me can grab their laptop bag, jump on a tram and walk to their workplace – so I hope some motorists will opt to do so on the odd day…

And I might see you on board – at a safely social distance, of course!