Monday 19 September 2022


we need to look after earth, our planet

I read somewhere that as you get older you are more settled in your views. You become less radical and prefer to keep things the way they are.

I seem to be the opposite.

A couple of years ago, global warming, veganism, pollution and active travel were just things I heard or read about.

Now they are issues I am becoming more passionate about. 

We can't go on consuming as we do, polluting the environment, and largely ignoring alternatives to driving.

At the moment all the news is about EV's (electric vehicles), almost exclusively cars and vans. Much less that of e-bikes and scooters, except to criticise them. But EV come with many downsides, you cut tailpipe emissions, conveniently forgetting parking and charging. If they replace like for like most will be parked on the road, or more likely on the pavement; multi car homes don't have off street parking for all the vehicles. This causes danger for pedestrians, they often block cycle paths, so riders are endangered. They are usually bigger and heavier, damaging paths, and wearing out roads faster. Brake dust and particulates from tyres are a big problem that is seldom discussed. How are the cars going to be charged if they aren't close to the power point? Cables can't be allowed to block pavements. Why are local councils expected to foot the bill to install power points? We should be moving towards less cars  by investing in alternatives. The batteries are very environmentally and socially damaging to produce and dispose of. All motor vehicles are too fast, the e-scooters for hire have speed limiters yet the most dangerous road users don't.

Flying; foreign holidays really took off when people were persuaded that only a fly away destination was acceptable. Further advanced by cheap travel achieved by bigger planes and subsidies: no VAT is paid on kerosene for example. I have been just as guilty as anyone else; not anymore. At the same time in the UK high speed long distance train travel has become more expensive, less convenient and unattractive. I know it's said travel broadens the mind, but does it have to come at so high a price to the environment?

Agriculture: especially meat and dairy. Huge implications are built into this food production method.  From the antibiotics given to the animals, pollution of waterways by run off to deforestation to rear them and the grow of their food. This sector is also a big generator of greenhouse gases. Not forgetting the cruelty of the process and the detrimental effect it has on human health.

Fish: despite the industry assurances it's not sustainable, and is wreaking huge damage to the environment. Passing the poisons we pump into the sea up the food chain to us - PCB and plastics - being the biggest concerns.

Road building: continued expansion isn't the answer; look up induced demand for an explanation. Use the money to link towns and cities with cycle paths and subsidise reliable public transport. 

All of the above causes increased costs for the NHS in so many ways.

Clothing or the fashion industry: similar to tech; we are constantly bombarded with advertising to induce us to buy more. To replace what hasn't worn out. Too much daytime TV is focused on this. The implications are widespread: questionable labour practices, pollution, unsustainable land use expansion and general waste.

I try to keep my posts positive, this one could be if society starts to make the right choices. Government has a big part to play, and so have we. 

Sunday 4 September 2022

Travel for free

save money ride a bike

Cafe chat on bank holiday Monday. 

"Isn't it great that you can ride your bike to anywhere, and it doesn't cost anything."

Matt is right, up to a point. Destinations over about 100 miles would need an overnight stop. You could wild camp for free, with landowners permission. Otherwise it's a B&B. This would be even easier if main roads had segregated cycle paths. They tend to be flatter and more direct than the quieter roads that are safer for riders. It is encouraging to hear that HS2 may have them.

Now riding to work a few days a week. He is fitter, has lost weight and is saving a lot of money. There are sections of the route that cause concern, the interaction with other roads users is the reason. 

I have written posts about my thoughts on this. A big change in attitude is needed from government, media, drivers and motor manufacturers. Road violence has to be seen as a serious danger. It cannot be dealt with lightly, as it is at present.

I visited my mum and sister yesterday, a round trip of 32 miles. Completed in not much more time than it would have taken by car. No cost or pollution. I went to a bbg a few weeks ago, another a very pleasant ride. Obviously traveling as a couple we would need the car. How many other people without health issues drive because they don't consider an alternative even for very short distances. Many people will drive as little as 2 or 3 miles.

The National Travel Survey 2021 makes for some interesting reading. Did you know that 72% of all journeys undertaken in the UK are under 5 miles. A manageable distance for many people on a bike, yet over 50% of these journeys are driven. That’s 18 billion journeys that could be cycled.

Maybe some of those needed to be motorised; could an e-bike have been an alternative for a few?  How many were local deliveries? Cargo bikes are increasingly being used for quite bulky items, and people.

Disabled people, depending on their condition, can find walking difficult but riding isn't. Another reason to make our roads safer.

Local businesses see a rise in revenue where more active travel options are provided. Crime is reduced, making our streets safer.

Community spirit is often said to be lacking in our villages, towns and cities. This could be improved if we get out of our cars and interacted with our neighbourhood.

The weather was fine for the ride yesterday; I have ridden it in the rain. I'm not made of sugar so I didn't dissolve. I just put on a jacket.