Transport – On your bike – Mar 2006

For an environmentalist I have a dangerous confession! I love driving. My car is comfortable, warm, dry, has a good stereo and even air conditioning. I’m lucky in that my commute does not take me to big towns so I rarely have to sit in traffic.

But I know what damage using it does to the environment.

In 2000, 34% of all energy consumption in the UK was by transport according to the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (cars taking the major share) and 41% of all car journeys in Britain in 2002/03 were under 2 miles as noted by the Department for Transport/National Statistics 2005. Cars are major emitters of CO2, which in the case of my Ford Focus equates to some 150g per kilometer, as well as using large amounts of unsustainable raw materials in all aspects of their life cycle.

It’s all very well, but how else can I get to work near Bath, some 25 miles away? The bus would entail 2 connections and a 2 hour commute and to cycle would take a similar time. One of the hardest aspects of leading a responsible and eco-friendly lifestyle is equating it with earning a living for your family.

But what I have learnt are many tricks to reducing the impact of our gas-guzzling ways;

  • Buy the most fuel efficient car that you can afford
  • Modern diesel cars emit less CO2 then petrol and are more fuel efficient
  • Drive in a fuel saving way by
    • Going easy on the accelerator and brake
    • Turing the engine off when stuck in traffic
  • Walk or cycle those short distances
  • Encouraging your workplace to use home-working
  • Use public transport whenever possible

The other bonus we have in our parish is the amazing choice of great shops on our doorstep. I cannot think of another village which has such variety and quality. And it is surprising how much I can squeeze into my bike panniers and how good I feel after the cycle from Heath House, not to mention how much easier the parking is!