Have you ever walked down the road and seen something you wanted to improve? Our latest campaign, ‘This could be a…breath of fresh air’, aims to do just that. Our posters, which you might have started to spot around Wanstead, are designed to improve, add or adapt features in the local areas in an effort to tackle the climate crisis in a proactive way. The starting point for our campaign is focused on active and sustainable travel by making suggestions for where cycle lanes, bike shelters and electric bike charging hubs could be introduced. We are imagining a community where these things are possible, turning problems into solutions.
In light of recent global events, ‘This could be a…’ feels more essential than ever. The circumstance through which we have seen roads quieten, pollution levels drop and heard the song of nature grow bolder have been devastating. The loss of close ones has torn families apart and those amongst us struggling for work or with mental health issues are left with a lot to face in what is an extremely difficult time under the cloud of Covid-19. It has shone a bright light on some of the things that underpin the health of our society; as we are stuck in the midst of one huge health crisis, another more familiar one is rumbling on too – the climate crisis. This is an opportunity to reimagine aspects of our own and our community’s health.
One fundamental aspect of the health of our society is the way we travel. ‘This could be a…’ is a way to imagine alternatives to sitting alone in cars on long commutes as they gobble up fossil fuels, being cramped together on overcrowded public transport or using unsafe cycle lanes. These things could become less frequent or even be eradicated if safe cycling lanes, safe bike shelters and e-bike charging hubs are introduced to our community.
The Campaign for Better Transport ‘Renewing the Transport system’ report1 highlights the need for cycling lanes and pavements to be made more safe and accessible for all users’ needs and to be made suitable for cargo bikes, push bikes and e-bikes. In cities where this sort of infrastructure is already being used successfully, such as Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Utrecht there is evidence to suggest that once safe and proper cycling infrastructure is in place, then populations make the shift to use this as a mode of transport2. Air pollution is part of the danger of some current modes of transport, investing in cycling infrastructure will help to mitigate that issue. Additionally it presents numerous other benefits including health benefits, logistical urban planning benefits and social benefits3. The latter of these could include creating space and different and better ways of interacting within a city.
In countries such as Germany and Holland e-bikes are becoming very popular, in Germany a third of all bike sales are now e-bikes4. The benefits of e-bikes are clear to see, they’re: convenient, potentially accessible to people who may not be able to ride a push bike, supportive of good physical health and are a sustainable alternative to cars. E-bikes are starting to appear more and more now and London Councils have planning and policy in place which suggest that the implementation of charging points and safe shelters across the city is feasible5. Boroughs in London, such as Greenwich have launched borrowing schemes for residents and workers to use e-bikes affordably.
You may see our ‘This could be a…’ posters around the Wanstead area. Hopefully you can take some inspiration from these, share them and imagine some of your own too. The prioritisation of a safe, sustainable and active transport system is paramount and possible.
1Campaign for Better Transport Covid-19 Recovery Renewing the transport system July 2020
2 Civitas Report – Enabling Cycling Cities Ingredients for Success
3 DfT A summary and discussion of value for money estimates from studies of investment in walking and cycling