Bishopston Society member Kevin Molloy gave a response to the main speakers on air pollution at the hererecent public meeting of the Bishopston Society with a plea to leave the car at home. In the following article Kevin fleshes out his argument:
Reading through the Society’s January newsletter stiffened my resolve to spend less time with my hands on a steering wheel and more time with my feet on the ground.
My response is not as someone with specialist knowledge but as a 68 year old keen to stay healthy and leave a better Bishopston for my grandchildren. It is aimed at fellow baby boomers and is predicated on four extracts from the three talks given at the meeting -
- Air pollution is the single, largest public health risk globally
- It's generally accepted that by far the most important local source of pollution is vehicle exhaust
- Cars don't cause air pollution, we do by driving them so any solution will come from a change in our habits.
- We should view this as an opportunity to improve health and well-being.
I'm sure that we would all agree that our air quality in Bishopston needs improving and that our elected representatives could do more but what can each one of us do to help? Lots as it so happens if we really strive toward a little more walking and a little less driving. So here are five ideas for direct action in addition to lobbying of local and national representatives:
1. The 20mph limit is intended to improve health as well as safety as slower traffic makes for pleasanter walking. So we could all try harder to drive within the limit and to spread the message to all our friends and neighbours. For those of us of a more assertive nature, there is always the option of volunteering for a local Community Speed Watch. [It's also nicer to walk in streets where there is no fly-tipping, tagging or litter so we could join the BCR Street Champions group].
2. We could nag our children to walk our grandchildren to school or get them to encourage their primary school to put a "walking bus" arrangement in place. Find out about 'walking bus' schemes here
3. We could encourage more streets to embrace the Playing Out scheme which allows for road closure for a day so that local children can play in a safe and healthy environment.
4. We could get to know Bishopston better by enjoying the short walks described in the Let's Walk Bishopston booklet produced by the BCR Neighbourhood Partnership Lets Walk Bishopston
5. We could set out to improve our health and well-being by following some of the walks in an upcoming booklet Let’s Walk to Health. This will include walks to Southmead Hospital from our three local medical centres plus some gentle exercise routes on and around Horfield Common.
For more information on improving Bristol's walking environment you can visit the Bristol Walking Alliance website.
Enjoy your walking and protect your grandchildren’s health!
See also the report of The Bishopston Society’s well attended meeting on air pollution here and the exclusive articles (here) by the speakers who preceded Kevin, ie Jim Longhurst, Gavin Spittlehouse and Tom Brook.