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Active transport = frugal exercise

Do you pay to commute to work?  Either on public transport or by driving a private vehicle?  Do you also pay to exercise at a gym?  What if I told you there was a frugal way to get to work AND get some exercise, either free or at a reduced cost compared to your current commute?

eight acres: using active transport

Active transport is a term used to describe getting around by walking or cycling (or skateboarding, roller skating, running, skipping etc).  I have been walking to work and back in Brisbane since I moved in December to a unit a bit closer to the city (I drive down there first thing Monday morning, then back to the farm on Friday afternoon, long story back here).  My main motivation is pure stinginess.  The bus was costing $35/week, and my new unit is only a 45 minute walk to work, which is actually quicker than the bus as I can take short-cuts through parkland.  I was also finding that I got home too late and didn't feel like getting any exercise in the evening.  Best to get that over and done first thing in the morning and on the way back from work!

I have always been a walker.  I walked to school from when I was 5-years old until I finished high-school.  I used to walk to music lessons, sports practice, friend's houses.  I got my drivers license at 17, but never had a car to drive, my family only had one car, so I usually had to find another way to get where I wanted to go.  I got a bicycle after high school and I cycled to uni, to jobs, to friend's houses.  I didn't get a car until I moved out to the Lockyer Valley with Pete when I was 25.  Since then we've lived in rural areas and active transport has not been an option on narrow country roads.   So I am enjoying the opportunity to get around without driving (its not so much the driving I dislike, the parking is the worst part!).

My one gripe with active transport in Brisbane is that many of the cycle paths don't actually join up to take you anywhere useful.  Unfortunately city planners seem to view cycling (and even walking) as a recreation activity, in which you may cycle around a path and back to the start, or just up and down the river, instead of actually going from one place to another.  I remember when some of the rules changed recently so that motorists had to give cyclists more space on the road and people were calling up talkback radio saying that cyclists should go to purpose-built facilities to cycle and stay off the roads!  As if people are on the roads at peak hour because they are just out for a fun ride!  Most people I see in the morning are on their way to work, cycling, walking or running (and one on a motorized skateboard, Pete said I can't get one).

Of course when I'm full-time on the farm, I get plenty of exercise.  I had to do a health check at work once and I put "farm work" down as my daily exercise.  I explained that I often have to carry heavy things long distances.  I was told that I needed to try to get more "organized exercise" into my day!  And while I'm not full-time on the farm, I don't want to lose my farm fitness by sitting on the bus!

I understand that active transport is not a possibility for everyone and there are lots of reasons why it may not work, but I challenge you to think about it.  Can you get off the bus a stop earlier?  Can you walk to the station instead of driving?  Can you cycle to work one day a week?  Think of the cost saving, and possibly a time-saving if you don't go to the gym when you get home.

Do you use active transport?  Or farm fitness routines?  Why or why not?


  1. I hope you offered to take that person out to the farm for the weekend, just to see how they coped with "unorganised exercise" pfft...they wouldn't last an hour! Good for you on the walking to work, win/win situation really. I attend the "Green Gym" several times a week, don't have to leave home, and the garden always looks better when I'm finished...there's no membership fees, but I always seem to be able to spend money on it LOL!

    1. Yeah I was pretty tempted. Also I think Pete would make a good personal trainer, usually he says "do you reckon you can lift this?" and I say "no" and he makes me lift anyway.

  2. My aim is to eventually be able to walk to work.....don't ask me how I will accomplish this - just letting my subconscious come up with the solution.

    1. That's how I started.... you find a way eventually if you really want to!

  3. Since I work from home I have no commute at all. I try and make sure I walk Jessie most days a week but with starting Uni I am trying to get everything in balance. Some people have no idea of the physicality of farm work even on a small property and possibly more so as you tend to move more by hand rather than machine.

    1. Yes that's true, on a big farm you are more likely to have a tractor or farm bike to reduce the exercise requirement!

  4. we live on a very busy and dangerous road...and it's a long long way into town. my hubs' commute is 51 miles each way. so boo!!!!

    1. yes, that's what its like from our place in the country... I totally understand that active transport is not a possibility in that case!

  5. I often wish I lived a little closer to work and could cycle in and out.

    1. :) its a great way to start the day!

  6. I'm dutch. I'll explain my context for stating my country. Here cycling is uneventful. Like running to stay healthy, or like wearing better shoes for comfort, or walking to the bus stop, or taking the car. Utterly not worth mentioning that you use a bike for all your trips. If you do mention, people stare. There are not aware how special it is to be able to say that. I was one of those people 2 years ago, and I'm over 50. It's that kind of normal.
    But you're dutch you'd say, they have cycling in their DNA. I'd disagree, hence this long comment. We were like you in the 1950s and 1960s, racing to go car only!, the future, finally, a car! how mankind has reached it's potential. A CAR!!! happiness all around. But the '60s and late 60s showed the dark side of going all car. Traffic deaths, and 10% of them children under 15 years. by 1971 it was 400 children died by hitting a car! Pubic opinion, no not the government, not the press, not academia, not business, not the church, nobody cared, but public opinion. You must know, that apparantly, government and academia, will only change if public opinion changes first. And the dutch were lucky, public opinion, for once, did the right thing, and said 'stop the kindermoord'. Government had to leave the car centric city of the future, and rethink, completely rethink!, were FORCED to rethink, repeatedly forced, then 2 cities were selected, and they confirmed. Rethink was wise, rethink was good, and so it was that the entire country of NL did the rethink, and consequently did the replan.
    Guess what, city centre shopping INCREASED instead of withered away, Child mortality went down from 400 in 1972 to 14 in 2014. 14 !. 14! 14!. All without helmet law.
    Video links
    school run, 2010, in a city of 70000 (Assen)
    rush hour, 2010, in a city of 300000 (Utrecht)
    how the dutch go their cycle paths
    Women cycling,
    A review of cycling in Brisbane
    Remember, public opinion first, only then government will follow.

    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective, I think it city planners changed their focus to cycle and pedestrian access instead of car access, particularly in the inner city, it would be so much easier for more people to use active transport. I didn't realise it was such a recent change in NL.


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