Lockdown – a greenprint for the future?

by | Apr 30, 2020 | GC Cycles | 0 comments

What a difference – fewer cars, cleaner air, peace and quiet. We might be physically distancing, but the smiles on the faces of people, whether on bikes or on foot, has been reducing the social distancing. We’ve all noticed less traffic on the roads and that our streets are nicer places to be when they are not clogged up with cars and pollution in the major urban areas across the world has reduced as a direct effect. Pictures from India clearly illustrate the improvement in air quality, or satellite images of major cities. Play with the tool embedded in this website – to see the marked drop in NO2 in the main cities of European countries during lockdown. Pollution was a health epidemic before Covid-19, with many deaths attributed to respiratory failure exacerbated by airborne pollutants. A recent study suggests that the lockdown period has avoided 11,000 deaths across Europe. And that’s before we even consider the estimated 1.35 million deaths globally on the road every year. Now is the time to be positive about the future. The government effectively mandated compulsory daily exercise, with many people taking a daily walk or digging the bike out from the back of the shed (we can help with that). How many of us have rediscovered our local areas, felt the health benefits of daily exercise, remembered the joy and sense of freedom from childhoods spent on a bike? As suggested by Chris Boardman, we should take this opportunity to think about what we want life to be like after lockdown. Why not implement a green transport revolution, as the government has quietly admitted we need to do? We should be ambitious and make our urban environments easy to use by foot, bike and public transport. We have an opportunity to protect the environment for ourselves and future generations by reducing our carbon footprints and limiting the impacts of climate change. If we are “protecting the NHS” now, shouldn’t we be doing this in the future too? Perhaps we should take personal responsibility to get fitter and thereby reduce the burden on the NHS due to preventable diseases – maintain our daily exercise and make it the commute. This will take strong and brave leadership from our politicians and representatives, but we have a personal responsibility to change too. Let’s take the positives from our time living with Covid-19 and leave the car in lockdown. Photo by Justin Clark on Unsplash

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