Monday, August 20, 2007

Get out and walk!

Just read this excellent article from the Guardian Online.

The fume-spewing, fattening car is also utterly expendable
The real enemies of the environment are the obdurate millions who refuse to accept they can function without driving
By Lynsey Hanley @ The Guardian

By the year 5555, prophesied the one-hit wonders Zager and Evans in their queasy late-60s record In the Year 2525, our arms will have gone floppy and our legs grown useless because we'll have "some machine" to do the work that once kept our limbs healthy. That machine has already been invented. It's called the car, and it does more damage to our bodies, our built environment, our climate and our communities than anyone who drives a lot seems prepared to admit, even to themselves. A case in point is last week's revelation that excessive car use is a greater contributor to obesity than excessive cake consumption, because of all the calories that drivers are failing to burn off over the course of countless walkable journeys. Research carried out by the Institute for European Environmental Policy shows that, in the last 30 years - when all but 19% of households have become car owners - the amount of time we spend walking has decreased, from 67 hours per person per year to 47, while time spent driving has increased precipitously, from 91 to 151 hours per driver per year.

As a lifelong pedestrian and user of public transport, the only trouble I tend to experience in getting from A to B is having to listen to people who usually drive describe pleasant, speedy journeys as "a bloody shambles". Methinks they protest too much, mindful that to be caught sharing transport with other people is to show the world what a loser you are. Anyway, these serial complainers have presumably never been in a traffic jam, or been subject to roadworks.

People who have always driven, and were driven around as children, have no idea what it's like to be a pedestrian. They don't care about the fumes they emit, because they can't smell or sense them inside their cars. They don't care about the noise they make, because all they can hear while locked inside their car is a low, comforting purr. They don't care about the fact that the one-way system and the inner ring road make getting into and around towns a dirty, stressful ordeal, because the first they know about it is when they emerge from the car park into the shopping centre.

.... continued here

The idea of the average UK resident doing an average of 67 hours per year seemed truly shocking. I did some quick sums and I reckon I'd do at least 400 hours a year on the bike, so I guess I won't have to buy another machine to keep my limbs healthy.

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