Road vehicles account for nearly three quarters of transport CO₂ emissions worldwide and levels are not going down. Road collisions are also responsible for killing around 1.5 million people a year globally, alone.
Ph: International Energy Agency
Regardless of the apparently conscious decision to disproportionally focus on electric vehicles instead of taking a wider approach to include active travel, here are a few tips that we can all do, right now.
1. Speak up
Yes, we can all do our bit at individual level but without an enabling environment, effect is limited. So do get organised! Join your local clean air, walking or cycling campaigning group and lobby the hell out your local politicians for change. Demand safe routes to school, to work, to the shops and anywhere else you need to be. Ask for choice. Diversify your voice, include children and under-represented groups and demand clean air and safe streets. This is your right.
2. Shop Locally
Do as much as you can to shop locally and limit home deliveries to items that cannot be procured in another way. With a greater number of us working flexibly, popping out to the shops, can provide a much needed break from the computer screen, an opportunity to clear our head and a bit of regular physical exercise with a purpose. This can be done more often but for smaller quantities. If you are worried about carrying bulky items, consider investing in a little trolley (they have been elevated to statement level now). A couple of bicycle panniers or crates are also a good alternative to bring your shopping home should you cycle there. Or if a viable option for you, a cargobike is ideal.
Shopping for a family of four. Ph: S Gauthereau
3. Going car free
This is entirely possible in cities like London even for families. Some odd trips may still require to be driven but you don’t necessarily have to own a car. You could hire one. Or organise yourself with your neighbours to share one. When your current car needs renewing, why not consider a cargobike instead? Cargobikes can take on much of what a car does, at a fraction of the cost. Your health, purse and the environment will be better off as a result.
4. School runs
The school run is a big contributor to carbon emissions and harmful N0x. Inspire others by walking or cycling yourself and if you can, set up a local walking or cycling bus to do it together with others. Schools and local authorities can support you with that. It will be more fun, more stimulating and as a group you will feel stronger. Research has shown that active travel to school has many benefits on children’s cognitive functions too. You will also help with reframing the norm which should have never been to drive a tank for two, for under 1 mile to go to school.
Demonstrating how much children notice when cycling to school as opposed to being driven. (Laboratorio de Espacio Público en México)
If you own a business, look at how you can consolidate your logistics. Either by rearranging how deliveries are made or by changing the transport mode used. A growing number of cargobike logistics businesses offer a bespoke service for deliveries. Some companies have invested in their own fleet or joined forces with other businesses in their neighbourhood. There are many ways to do this which do not solely rely on private car or van ownership.