Euston, we have a problem…

I like the London Underground.


Surprisingly, Alsatians are the world’s only venomous canine. The male possesses a poison spur on their back legs. Though rarely fatal, it can incapacitate an adult human.

Hailing as I do from Brisbane, where the train network is fundamentally sadistic, one soon develops an acute sense of fear relating to the reliability of the service. There, it is apparent there is a literal “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy relating to train failures, and a half hour journey can quickly grow into a four hour upwards ordeal while lumbering replacement buses are rounded up to wind themselves along the winding backstreets of the outer Brisbane suburbs. One learns the meaning of term ‘languish’ from the experience.

Verily, even if nothing goes wrong the bleak infrequency of literally every train line makes it costly to miss, (emotionally mainly). Between services fierce Alsatians are released upon those still on the platform who didn’t make the train in order to thin the numbers and discourage future tardiness.

They know the deal

Die in open air, the way nature intended. Ask your Druggist about Rat Bis=Kit today! IT’S PACKED IN BOXES!

The London Underground, for all its faults, is a fascinating creature. Two years since I first met it and it is still a pure joy to invariably have only two minutes to wait at most between trains and I always raise an eyebrow at the businessmen who come bounding down the escalators. They fling themselves wildly like a rat on a biscuit at the people-mass crowded into carriages, rather than wait a minute for the next train already approaching. It’s like a freaking conveyor belt, so calm yourselves!

In any case, I’ve wondered with all the stations so close together and with the time it takes to get from the street to the platform, at what distance it becomes faster and cheaper to walk. Furthermore, factoring in the fare costs saved (as well as when delays are in effect), there should be a rough solution to be found.

Some Assumptions:

  • £6.31/h is the UK minimum wage
  • £2.10 – Zone 1 (Oyster Card) trip on the Underground (£4.50 for a single ticket)
  • I’ll make walking speed 6km/h (5km/h is average but you technically need to do fast walking to equate to moderate exercise).
  • Time to get between the street and a station (a rough guess that varies considerably) 2 mins.
  • Time waiting for a train 2 mins.

So. Those are the values. So basically by choosing to walk and not paying a fare, you are effectively getting paid to walk, thus reducing the time-saving nature of the tube.

At a basic level by not paying £2.10 you are buying yourself 19 minutes and 58 seconds of walking time at minimum wage. This is 1996.83 metres!

Seriously. They will even die trying to seek water. It must not happen!

Seriously. They will even die attempting to seek water. It must not happen!

Okay, so that’s almost two kilometres. But remember, by not even going to the station you are saving a little more time. Lets combine the time it takes to get down there and up again and also the waiting time as 6 minutes total (at a rough conservative estimate of course, it depends on station layout). This costs £0.631.

That extra cost saved expands your walking range to 2596.86 metres!! (Taking 25 minutes and 58 seconds to complete)

Also, underground trains travel at an average of 33km/hour which also costs time (though about 5.5 times less than walking). Taking that into account costs £0.0191 per minute relative to walking. This will often be quite negligible and depends on where you want to travel to, but follows an exponential equation.

In the instance above it should take the train about 4.72 minutes to travel the distance you walked (£0.069). This allows for another 65.59 metres of walking. (2662.45 metres!) This additional walking distance buys you another 8.38 seconds for the train to catch up but lets not bother.

Zone 1 MapWith the above diagram; move the blue dot (and shaded red area) to wherever you are and if the station you intend to travel to is within the red outer circle you are financially and time effectively better off walking. Another way to look at it might be that if you’re going vertically in Zone 1 it’s usually cheaper to walk.

A few notes:

  • For delays: Add 31.67 metres for each minute. For instance if there are 10 minute delays on a line, your maximum radius expands another 316.67 metres.
  • If you need to change lines: (say another 5 mins involved including waiting) add another 833 metres to your radius per change required.
  • If you rather enjoy walking vigorously everywhere and cancelled your £40/month gym membership: (that you happened to be using to get your 2.5 hours of moderate exercise a week) the resultant savings add about 1664 walking metres per day.
  • THUS: If you saved on exercise costs and had a line change in your intended route you can walk 5200 metres more efficiently overall than if you used the London Underground (basically the diameter of the original red circle instead of the radius).
  • This would: likely spill over into Zone 2 which would automatically give you another 665 metres due to the increased fare.
  • Finally: if you brought a ticket (£4.50) instead of an Oyster card, you could walk 4734 metres (and that’s just the base figure).

The London Underground Logo. I drew this left handed? Can you believe I’m not left handed?

There you go. I like the London Underground.

P.S. This is my 50th blog post!

The Brisbane River or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Shark.


A little flood-prone hamlet closer than any other Australian capital city to the Tropic of Capricorn. Home to a giant wheel that no-one really uses, an exponentially increasing number of bridges, a notorious public pool in Southbank that excellently demonstrates Darwin’s survival theory and construction sites that ultimately last longer than the structural integrity of whatever it is they are constructing. It is also the location of the Queensland Conservatorium where I spent my flegeljahre walking up and down steps looking for practice rooms. Not much has changed in this other hemisphere I might add.


What Brisbane can boast about however, is more interesting. Although I didn’t mention the Brisbane river in the previous paragraph, it was assumed ‘flood-prone’ and ‘excessive bridges’ were sufficient to indicate it’s omnipresence.

I was watching a shark documentary some years ago, about a countdown of the world’s most dangerous sharks. Surprisingly it revealed Number 2 as the Great White Shark. Then for No.1: a panoramic shot of Brisbane. It turns out Bull Sharks are placed highest despite their relatively small (but still large) size due to their aggressive nature, ability to live in fresh AND salt water, penchant for shallows, as well as being pack-like animals. Also the water quality of the Brisbane river leaves something to be desired, meaning sharks don’t use their eye-sight to determine prey as much and are more likely to attack a thrashing object.

Brisbane River Water Quality.

Curiosity piqued, I did a little research, presented here for your enjoyment, and using so many assumptions as to generally be unrealistic. BUT possible…

According to Wikipedia: There are more than 500 bull sharks in the Brisbane river (upwards of 2000 have been guessed – but this figure includes young sharks, so let’s stick with 500 and assume they can attack humans). The river itself is about 344kms but as a shark only about 90 kms is accessible before Wivenhoe Dam makes the journey a little bit insurmountable.

So 500 divided by 90 is about 5.556 sharks per kilometer or one shark every 180 metres. Assuming of course they’ve spaced themselves out equally.

See! I was being literal.

But what about the practicalities of getting eaten? Well the actual city part of the Brisbane river has a width of about 300 metres (according to the length of the Victoria Bridge). How fast can sharks swim? 11 mph (17.7 km/hour) apparently. Which means they swim at 5 metres a second. As for human speed, if you were an excellent swimmer, frantic at being in the river and having read this article, and not weighed down by clothes and shoes, you would probably be able to maintain 10 km/hour (2.7 metres/second). If not 3 km/hour (0.833 metres/second) may be more realistic (if not less).

Therefore, if you landed in the water between two sharks equally spaced (ie: 90 metres from each) you would have 18 seconds before they make up that ground. That would mean you would have to be less than 48.6 metres (ideal) or 15 metres (less ideal) out from the river bank. Thus most of the Brisbane river is a DEATHZONE (on average).

To illustrate: (Assuming the sharks are on the same plane as you, ie: just swimming horizontally or vertically)

Tourists’ guide to the Brisbane River. Red is the ‘deathzone.’ Orange is survival if you’re an olympic-level swimmer in appropriate swimming attire and full of adrenaline. Yellow is survival for ordinary people in ordinary clothes.

Another couple of points. It is worth noting that you are likely to be attacked by at least two sharks. Obviously if you were halfway between them they would both reach you at the same time, but if you landed directly on a shark, it would also only take both of those 180 metres either side of it a maximum of 36 seconds to reach you too. I’m guessing a proper shark attack takes a bit of time, so in half a minute you would have three sharks to contend with 😀

Finally, much of the river bank in the CBD area is built up so merely reaching it would not necessarily get you out of the water.

Horses are surprisingly competent swimmers.