In an effort to start a debate on the absurdity of flying everywhere without even looking at a map, I biked to the OIKOS2022 conference in Aarhus. In this report I will demonstrate that taking the ferry and biking was actually faster than flying. I will put together the activities I did besides transporting myself, and count as travel time only the time that was purely dedicated to travel.
The trip to Aarhus took place on a Sunday and Monday, which was a public holiday. The time window is 36 hours because that is the time it took me between leaving my flat and arriving at the accommodation in Aarhus. The ferry trip to Hirtshals is 18 hours, but on board the ferry I got the chance to read, sunbath on the upper deck, talk with colleagues, have good food and some beers. I had to wait 1 hour to board the ferry.
The flight to Aarhus is 1h20mn to Copenhagen, 2h45mn lay over, 40mn to Aarhus (not the worst connection offered by Google flights). In Bergen, it takes about 1 hour to reach the airport with the bybane and it is the same in Aarhus. It is advised to arrive at least 1 hour before take-off at the airport. All this time in public transportation and in line is not really usable. I still counted 1 hour of podcast listening out of 2 hours of public transport, 1 hour of reading out of 4 hours of waiting, and 1 hour of reading out of 2 hours of flying. Those numbers are very optimistic: knowing myself, I usually just listen to music on the plane and public transport, and stand awkwardly when waiting at the terminal.
The normal weekend is an estimated average of what I usually do on the weekends.
We can see in the figure that, even in a very optimistic scenario where I do things on the plane, there are still 5 hours fully dedicated to travelling. In the ferry and bike scenario, I spent only 1 hour waiting to board.
Overall, my travelling time was shorter travelling by bike and ferry instead of flying. On the plus sides, the
ferry felt like a much needed little vacation, I saw a lot of wildlife, I got to do a little bit of sightseeing, and
getting on the bike after sitting in a conference hall felt amazing. On both ways, I was hosted by other
cyclists (thanks to the Warmshowers.org community!) and had interesting discussions about my research and point of view of non scientists.
The downsides of taking the ferry and biking included headwind, rain, 200 km of straight line in flat Denmark, one flat tire, and missing the pre-conference workshop. I do not expect everyone to bike 200 km to a conference, and I will still fly if I am going far away. But I do think we need to think more about how we travel. Flying should be the last resort option. It is too easy to just book a flight without looking at a map. In my flying scenario, the lay over time in Copenhagen plus the flight to Aarhus is actually the same time as taking a train from Copenhagen airport to Aarhus. I chose flying to Aarhus because I have colleagues who did that.
In that matter, I would like to point out that the University of Bergen partner travel agency, Berg-Hansen,
can book flights only. If you really want to make a change in university staff travel habits, get a partnership with a travel agency that is specialized in sustainable travel. Those who still want to fly can book their tickets by themselves.