“UK drivers have cut 550 million miles a week by working from home” reported Ciara Knight in November 2020 (https://www.bymiles.co.uk/insure/magazine/author/ciara/). Commuting makes up 15% of car journeys in the UK so the more those journeys can be reduced – either by working from home or by living closer to the workplace – or shifted from cars to public transport, cycling or walking, the better – both for environment and our health.
Walking holidays, cycling holidays, train journeys – there are lots of ways of planning holidays that minimise fossil fuel consumption. Scotland, Cornwall, Wales, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany can all be reached by train within the day plus there are also options for taking a sleeper.
The pandemic increased the shift to online shopping and queues of cars outside supermarkets are now a thing of the past! In suburbs like East Sheen, walking – or cycling – to the shops is easy and what is bought can be carried in baskets, backpacks or trolleys. Kingston or central London are a train or bus ride away. Why do shopping centre need car parks?
Car free sports? Being active, doing sports, going to the gym are all good for our health – and even better if you get to the sports ground, the gym, the pool or the park without driving. If you normally drive, can you walk or cycle of maybe take the bus? Check out routes and times and enjoy an even greater sense of fitness.
Recently Londoners we’re given health warnings about air pollution: the elderly and those with breathing difficulties were advised to listen strenuous exercise and to stay inside. A spell of high pressure weather mean that the air over London had remained static for several days: no winds had been moving the air on and bringing in fresh. As the air wasn’t moving nor were the noxious chemicals and small particulates moving. Instead concentration levels of these pollutants were rising.
Where do these pollutants come from in the first place? Exhausts from vehicles, dust from brake blocks and tyres, smoke from wood burning fires, exhausts from gas and oil boilers, dust from construction sites, exhausts from waste incinerators and from industrial plants. Of all the sources of pollution generated in London, over 50% comes from vehicles! It would seem that we Londoners are the cause of much of the problem. Can we drive less? Can we become less reliant on polluting vehicles to deliver goods and services? Can we encourage active travel – walking and cycling?
“Bike is best!” Whether you are young or old or somewhere in between. Whether you are able bodied or disabled. Whether you are super fit or just starting out. Whether it’s simply for leisure or for getting from A to B. Whether it is for deliveries or commuting or the school ‘run’.
Active travel reduces carbon emissions, improves air quality and aids healthy living. What’s not to like?
And what is included in active travel? – walking, wheeling and cycling. The following extract comes from Wheels of Wellbeing, a charity that promotes cycling for people with disabilities.
Walking: foot/pedestrian-based mobility that may incorporate the support of aids to mobility such as stick/s, cane/s, crutch/es, the arm of another person and/or assistance animal/s.
Wheeling: an equivalent alternative to foot/pedestrian-based mobility. Includes wheeled mobilities such as manual self- or assistant-propelled wheelchairs, including wheelchairs with power attachments or all-terrain attachments (such as the “Freewheel”), powered wheelchairs, mobility scooters (three and four-wheeled) and rollators. Some people rely on their cycle to move (at a pedestrian’s pace) through pedestrianised environments when it is not physically possible to walk/push their cycle. Some people use their cycle as a walking aid, by leaning on it (do not use crutches but need to lean in order to walk, due to pain etc. – they can dismount but cannot park their cycle). Some people use e-scooters (with or without a seat), to wheel/scoot through pedestrianised environment if they cannot walk unaided.
We recommend never using ‘walking’ on its own (as it likely reinforces ableist stereotypes in people’s minds) but always using ‘walking/wheeling’ together. Both words represent the action of moving at a pedestrian’s pace, whether or not someone is standing or sitting, walking/wheeling unaided or using any kind of aid to mobility, including walking aids / wheeled aids, personal assistants or support animals.
Cycling: incorporates the action of moving at speed on a wide range of pedal- powered wheeled transport that may be powered with hands and/or feet, may transport one or more person, may or may not include e-assist and usually have between 2 and 4 wheels.
All of have to find ways of reducing our carbon footprints. One area of life which can have a large footprint is transport. Diesel, petrol and aviation fuel all produce large amounts of carbon dioxide. On the other hand walking and cycling have a zero carbon footprint. If you – like me -enjoy cycling, you might want to encourage other people to cycle too.
Today’s project is to make a tag to go on the back of your bicycle.
For this you will need the wooden lid from a empty box of Camembert cheese. Carefully remove the staples that fasten it to its sides.
Choose two of these holes that are opposite each other and mark them with a pen. Imagine a horizontal line between these two spots so that you can orientate your tag.
Use the lid to draw a circle on a piece of paper. On this piece of paper draw a design for your tag.
Once your are happy with your design, use permanent felt tip-pens to draw your design onto the wooden circle.
Thread to paper clips through each of the holes and then hook the paper clips around the metal supports under your cycle saddle.
Every time you go for a ride, people will see your tag and will think, Cycling is a good way to travel!
Action 82: Improve your cycling confidence. Cycling is good for our health and our environment. There are plenty of organisations who work to encourage and promote cycling, with practical support and through campaigns.
Action 40: Check out high visibility clothing. With schools terms starting and the evenings drawing in, it is a good time to think about staying visible as both pedestrians and cyclists when it is dark. After dark even light coloured clothes do not make the wearer clearly visible to other road users. Fluorescent markers on bags and coats, cycles, helmets, wrists and ankles are all good options.
New! Starting a from tomorrow and everyday during creationtide (1st September – 4th October) I will be posting a picture of something from the natural world to encourage us to ‘fall in love again with creation’. These will feature under the new heading added to the menu ‘Falling in Love’