Friday, 21 September 2007

The smell of a traffic-free world

I've been meaning to write about trasnport for a while, since the lovely days spent at Climate Camp. But, as usual, my natural procrastinating tendency keeps putting it off until a pile of events threatens to bury me under and I feel the slightly forceful inspiration to go over a theme. This seems to happen all too often.
The said pile of transported-related events started at the Camp and stacked up to a 28-hour train journey to Budapest. These lines were hand-written on a night train (and typed at a hotel in Budapest) somewhere half way between Koln and Vienna.
At some point between these two events, I got knocked off my bike by a car and at Lush, we started a two-week public transport campaign to coincide with the launch of the new enviro commuter's must-have: Go Green solid perfume and body spray. The cherry on the icing was the not-so-sweet presentation, in London, of IPCC's working group 2 findings and their contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report.
I'll break these events into individual posts for the sake of clarity and so people can read what interests them only.
In case you this is the only post you read, I'll go into the advertising bit first.

To celebrate the launch of the new fragrance and reward customers that choose pedal power over cars, we're giving a £1 discount on Go Green fragrance if you show us your bike (helmet might convince the sales assistant) or valid public transport ticket/oyster card. But better than the discount is our bike valet service this Saturday, September 22nd.

Go Green

Take your bike to the shop and have it pampered and looked after while you shop. Wouldn't it be fabulous if we, cyclists, got that kind of treatment everywhere? Extra services apart, Go Green is a superb fragrance. It gives you a refreshing and uplifting feeling for when you get off that sweaty, packed train or head for a meeting after pedaling miles.
It was inspired by Rebecca Lush, a long-standing and influential transport activist, who runs Road Block (now part of Campaign for Better Transport - former Transport 2000). They give support to groups against road expansion and lobby for the improvement of public transport services.
Transport is not a very sexy topic to talk about, especially because everyone loves their car and are not too keen to give it up. Through Charity Pot, we have been brave and funded quite a few groups against road and airport expansion. Cars and planes, to me, are the emblem of individual convenience at the expense of society.
What's more, private cars are responsible for 13% of UK's carbon emissions and, just like air travel, are a source rapidly growing and being heavily overlooked. To make matters worse, 25% of car journeys are under two miles, a distance easily covered by skates, skateboards, bikes, rickshaws, feet, bus, tram, stilts, space hoppers, etc. We don't really need 1.5 tonnes of steel, plastic and rubber with 200 horsepower to cover two miles. Imagine two hundred horses on the streets every time every one of us went to buy bread in the corner shop! (This logic works for visual purposes only...)


Joe said...

I've been thinking recently about freight. I run a small clothing business, and I was quite frightened recently when I sat down to work out the carbon footprint from getting our goods to us. Around 30% of the total carbon was produced just from getting the stuff from the port to us in Coventry, so it is a bit scary to imagine how much is produced by products which get carted between various distribution centres before hitting the shops.

I think we need a back-to-the-canal movement. The resource is there, almost totally unused. Yet many canals go near to the centre of big towns and cities, and the carbon produced is dramatically reduced compared to road transport. We just need the imagination to make it happen, particularly with products that might not be quite so time dependent - such as some cosmetics (hint!)

Amana said...

Well said.