How to save money, get exercise and ease stress by leaving the car at home and walking into Ipswich

Traffic at a standstill on Norwich Road in Ipswich - it's better to be walking along taking pictures

Traffic at a standstill on Norwich Road in Ipswich - it's better to be walking along taking pictures like this than sitting in a stationary car! - Credit: Archant

I live about two miles from our office in Portman Road, and in November last year I started walking to work, writes Paul Geater.

It started on the day the Orwell Bridge was closed.

The only regret I have about this is that I didn’t start leaving my car behind years ago!

It takes me about 30 minutes to walk each way. I generally leave the car at home three days a week – twice a week I give other members of my family a lift in on my way to work.

If I’m driving I have to allow myself 20 minutes to get in, and leaving at rush hour can take anything from 15-25 minutes so walking doesn’t take that much longer.

It’s hardly in the Mo Farah league of exercise, but it makes me feel so much better. I know how long it is going to take me to get to and from work – and listening to my iPod while walking really helps ease the stress of life. And you don’t half feel smug when you see drivers sitting in traffic queues.

Recently I’ve cut my journey time by cycling – quicker than driving.

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I’m not a confident cyclist and wouldn’t fancy taking my bike on a busy route like Norwich Road that I normally walk along.

But I’ve discovered a great route using Bramford Lane and small streets in the Handford Road area. I can get to work in 8-10 minutes and get home in 10-12 (it’s slightly downhill from my home to work!) and there’s no way I could drive as quickly as that during rush-hours.

I used to fill my car with fuel twice a month, at about £50 a throw. I couldn’t live without my car and I do enjoy driving (but not in congested traffic). But now I only need to fill it once a month on average. That’s halved my fuel bill, leaving an extra £50 in my bank account.

I know it isn’t practical for everyone to leave their cars at home. When I mention walking/cycling I’m always hearing: “But I have to drive from Shotley/Woodbridge/Hadleigh or wherever” and I quite understand that.

However statistics from the county council show that 60% of Ipswich residents live within 5km (three miles) of their work and 30% live within 2km (just over a mile) of their workplace.

If more of them walked or cycled to work some days they’d get more exercise, save money, and reduce the number of cars on the roads. Isn’t that worth thinking about?