GREEN & HEALTHY TRAVEL
Transport is now the biggest source of greenhouse emissions, most from cars and vans. Relying on private cars also has serious consequences on our health, wellbeing and communities: bringing air pollution, noise, congestion, road danger, and reduced physical exercise and local social interaction in our day-to-day lives.
The good news is that alternatives to driving are here, for most of us at least, and they bring so much benefit: walking, cycling, scooting, buses, community minibuses, trams, trains and shared mobility schemes are our transport future. We need to start by using them more, as much as we can, while working together locally to improve our sustainable transport network, so everyone can access sustainable mobility.
If we’re to tackle the climate emergency, we also need to drastically reduce the amount we fly, including (re)discovering the pleasures of local and domestic tourism.
TOP TIPS ON GOING CAR-FREE
(as much as you can)
1. THE ART OF THE POSSIBLE
If you have a car, you probably think it’s a necessity, but how many of your journeys could be made, at least partly, through other means? Use websites or apps (see below) to explore alternatives, and get up-to-date: many rail services, and walking and cycling paths, have been improved. You might be surprised how many journeys can be walked, cycled or use public/shared transport in combination. Or, can you be flexible about where you go: could walking, cycling and public transport take you to new places?
2. GET THE FEEL-GOOD FACTOR
We all know walking and cycling are healthy, and research shows our mental health benefits greatly too, especially in green spaces. But we often don’t take into account how using walking and cycling as forms of transport can help us build healthy, outdoor exercise into our daily routine more easily. Ditching the car might can mean journeys take a little longer, but you’ll double up on the benefits, even a short walk to the bus stop.
3. MAKE THE JOURNEY PART OF THE EXPERIENCE
Travelling by rail and bus can be surprisingly enjoyable and sociable. You can read, listen to podcasts, catch up on social media, have a good chat, or gaze out the window: better for the soul than getting stressed at the wheel. Whether you’re going on holiday or for a day out, there are countless exciting options, from the romance of a sleeper train, to a good-old-fashioned bus tour, to hiking between stations.
4. BE JOURNEY-SMART
Avoiding unnecessary journeys, especially by car, significantly reduces pollution. Writing a diary of a typical week can help. Can you combine trips, especially longer ones? Can any be eliminated through video/phone calls, or by getting shopping delivered, especially with delivery slots when the driver is in your area already?
5. BUILD UP YOUR CONFIDENCE
If you’re used to driving everywhere, shifting to active travel and public transport can feel like a big change, so why not build up confidence gradually? Making a few short journeys when you can take your time, ideally with a friend or group, can help you get used to navigating, tickets and timetables. If you’re new or returning to cycling, consider brushing up via a Bikeability course or with a friend in a safe, traffic-free environment.
For journey planning using sustainable travel modes, try:
Enter your origin and destination, and switch to public transport or walking mode – although most off-road paths aren’t shown, you can zoom in to see bus stops, search for railway stations, and get estimated walking or cycling times.
For local journey planning combining bus and train, plus most bus and train operators have their own apps and online info.
A new organisation creating a network of walking routes between towns and cities all over the UK.
A clever little app that will help you work out which routes are best to take when travelling around a city. It's available in London and a selection of other cities in the UK and further afield!
WHAT ABOUT ELECTRIC CARS?
Electric cars help to reduce emissions, but they still bring many problems, and are unaffordable for most. Their manufacture is carbon-intensive and involves lithium mining, which affects ecologically fragile places and poor communities.
Private cars, however they’re powered, still produce particulate pollution, take up space, cause congestion and danger, and are an inefficient, unhealthy way to travel. Hence the alternatives to driving are most beneficial, for us, our communities and environment.
GO FLIGHT FREE
Even if you walk, cycle and use public transport for shorter journeys, just one or two flights per year can cancel out the carbon benefits. Could you and your family make a pledge to go flight free, at least for the coming year? Use it as a chance to discover the amazing places we have on our doorstep, or consider a bigger adventure by rail, such as around Europe.
Find out more and make a Flight Free pledge.
If you’re planning holidays and weekends away, or family day-trips, the greenest way to travel longer distances is to take the train.
For journeys through stunning landscapes, and taking you to the heart of historic towns and hidden gems, see www.scenicrailbritain.com for inspiration.
SHARE YOUR GREEN TRAVEL TALES
If you’ve been on amazing sustainable travel trips that might inspire others, or you’re involved in a local project to boost active/shared/public transport, let us know or contribute a blog article.