A few times a year, I go to a meeting near Scarborough for a couple of days, and the usual route to get there from my home in the Selby area is to take the A19 to the A64, and the A64 across, as highlighted on the map below. If there is no traffic, this route should take right about an hour. However, this is a journey I make somewhat regularly, and only once have I managed to do it in an hour. Usually it will be one hour and fifteen minutes; my most recent trip took over an hour and a half.
In short, that is because the A64 is a nightmare. Despite being the major route between York and the East coast, it is a single carriageway for most of the way beyond York. This means plodding along behind the forty-miles-per-hour-everywhere chap (who somehow always manages to muster his car to do 90 on the short stretches of dual carriageway), or getting stuck in endless stop-and-go traffic, either because of people unwilling to let others merge when the dual carriageway sections end, or because of cars darting out of side roads at every opportunity that does not involve there actually being a reasonable gap for them to fill.
Today, however, I decided to take the backroads. I went across towards the A614 and up past Driffield, before turning north, as you can see on the map below. The A614 is really the only stretch of road on this journey where you would encounter any sort of traffic, but even then, I have rarely found myself being forced to drive significantly below the speed limit. What’s more, the first and last stretch of the journey are usually almost traffic-free.
The result? A journey that was four miles further and thirteen minutes longer. That said, I probably used less fuel, because I was driving at much more consistent speeds. The views were nicer, too. Most importantly, however, it was an entirely stress-free drive. I felt relaxed and content as I ambled across the sunny countryside, and arrived at my destination without any of the mental fatigue you get from normal commuting.
Suffice to say, I will never take the main roads to this venue again, but will happily leave fifteen minutes earlier to enjoy a peaceful journey. You may not find yourself in a situation where this kind of alternate route is possible – I recognise that I’m privileged to live in an area of relatively sparse population – but if you are, take the time to stop and plan ahead and allow those extra fifteen minutes every now and then. If nothing else, avoiding the stress and strain of commuter routes is good for your health and mental well-being. Who knows, you may even find you begin to enjoy driving again.
Go ahead and take the long way. It’s good for you.