Beat the Sydney Commute: Walk or Cycle to Work to Help the Environment


With Sydney’s morning and evening commute times getting worse every year, it’s time to ditch the traffic jams and overcrowded trains for a better solution. As the commute continues to become worse, Sydney’s residents are embracing alternative ways to commute to work by cycling or walking. Not only can these methods be more efficient in terms of reaching the office, but goes a long way to reduce your carbon footprint and improve physical health.

Why is commuting in Sydney such a pain?

Sydney is one of the most vibrant cities in the world. So you’d think a place that projects an image of sparkling harbours and balmy summer days would boast healthy lifestyles for their workforce.

In truth, the current situation is pretty dire. As most Sydneysiders know, commuting to and from work is a daily grind.

Almost a third of Sydney commuters travel more than 90 minutes a day. That’s worse than some of North America’s largest cities. Unsurprisingly, it’s the city’s west, northwest and southern regions that are most affected.

The average round trip commute for all workers doesn’t get much better, with folks travelling 71 minutes a day on average, by far the largest average commute in the country.

And while public transport users might be doing the right thing by forgoing the car, the same study shows that train and bus users have the longest transit times. Even inner city residents have a 92 minute commute on average when using mass transit. It seems like no matter which way you slice it, commuting around Sydney is a major headache.

Choosing healthier commuting alternatives

Given these incredible commute times, it’s safe to say that the faster alternative in Sydney is a myth. Unless you plan on driving into work at 5am or leaving after 9pm, your commute times are pretty fixed.

To add fuel to the fire, as you sit there with your engine idling in M5 traffic, you’re not only moving at a snail’s pace, you’re contributing to environmental harm, day in and day out. Fortunately, there are healthier alternatives.

Adding cycling and walking to your daily commute can be great for your health and the environment. A study into the potential health benefits of increased cycling in Stockholm found that if all commuters who live within a 30 minute cycle to their workplace rode to work, it would result in 110,000 new cyclists and an 8% reduction in mortality, 449 years of live saved every year.

If your workplace is dog friendly walking to work is a great opportunity for you to give your four-legged friend some much needed exercise. Just as walking gives humans health benefits, a brisk walk improves a dog’s cardiovascular health, muscle tone, and flexibility.

Walking or cycling to work is also a cost-effective way to travel work. According to research from AMP and the University of Canberra found that a commuter would spend $92,000 in professional life travelling to and from work.

With such potential for health and well being, not to mention the stress reduction on our expensive roadways, it’s more than a little curious why the government isn’t doing more to encourage cycling in Sydney.

How you can start walking and cycling to work

If you’re in the habit of the daily commute, breaking out of that mold into a healthier lifestyle isn’t always easy. Here are some tips for getting into a healthier way of commuting (and living).

Leave home earlier

Especially when you’re just starting out. Part of cycling and commuting is enjoying the commute. So give yourself a little extra time to enjoy the scenery.

Be prepared for inclement weather

A stash away shell jacket is invaluable to cyclers and walkers alike. If the rainclouds pop out, you’re prepared. Also, wear rain resistant walking shoes and ensure you’ve got all weather tyres on your bicycle.

Track your fitness

In our data obsessed world it’s time to get the cloud working for you. Fitness trackers can help you get motivated and set goals, so you know just how much healthier your commute is making you.

Keep water handy

A water bottle keeps you hydrated. Skip the morning coffee for some H2O and you’ll feel like a million bucks when you stroll into work of a morning.

Get a backpack

A high quality travel pack has better ergonomics than a suitcase or satchel. Your back will thank you and it’s easier to stash water bottles and clothes in various compartments, making your commute better.

Research supports alternative commuting

Cycling and walking isn’t for everyone. Mobility issues, distance and time can make it simply not possible for many commuters to cycle or walk their way to work. Fortunately, there are new ways to get around. Recent studies show that 11% of Australians have used a ridesharing service in the last year, while another 2 in 10 could see themselves using it in the future.

However, if cycling or walking is possible, it’s something you should take under serious consideration. A 5 year study by the University of Glasgow found that cyclists had 41% less chance of dying from all causes, as well as 46% less chance of developing cardiovascular disease. Pretty impressive stats right?

It’s time to make a change

If you’re thinking about making a change to how you commute, there’s no better time than right now. Start small, a single cycle or walk round trip a week. Soon, you’ll be loving your morning ritual and cycling your way to a healthier, happier lifestyle.