Pandemic lockdowns and travel restrictions caused dramatic but short-lived improvements in air quality and drops in air pollution. COVID-19 transformed the way of life for millions worldwide and demonstrated the way in which people can adapt their lifestyles to improve the environment.
World Car Free Day is Wednesday 22nd September, when all around the world towns and cities allow people to experience streets free of motor traffic. Richard Gladman, Head of Driving and Riding Standards at IAM RoadSmart, is on hand to give 10 top tips on what drivers and riders could do to Save Lives, Think Green, and Consider Others.
1. Avoid rush hour
For many people, a large part of their carbon footprint is created by using their car. One of the most common journeys is to get to work, but by avoiding travelling in rush hour with all of the stop start traffic it will help to reduce the emissions and the amount of fuel used which can only be a good thing
2. Continuing our drive to use less fuel
Fuel consumption has a lot to do with the car you drive, but whatever you drive there are things you can do to save fuel, save money, and cut pollution
. (link to EST eco driving?) By using a more efficient petrol or diesel car, the average home could save 0.9 tonnes of CO2 per year. A fully electric vehicle could save 2 tonnes per year.
3. Car share
By creating a carpool with other colleagues or other parents (if you need to take children to school by car), this will help free up more time for yourself as well as helping to reduce air pollution.
4. Mental wellbeing
Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance our wellbeing. Even a short burst of 10 minutes’ brisk walking increases our mental alertness, energy, and positive mood. If you can walk, cycle, or run to work you could arrive feeling brighter for the day ahead, as well as improving your carbon footprint.
5. Avoid instant gratification
Changing human behaviour to support environmental sustainability will often require delaying gratification. Whether it’s deciding not to opt for same-day delivery and choosing a greener shipping option or recycling the packaging that your impulsive purchase came in are small changes everyone can make.
6. Changing your driving style
Making small changes to your driving style can have a substantial impact on the level of emissions. By changing gear earlier, not reaching the upper range of the rev counter, avoiding late and coarse braking and generally slowing down will reduce wear and tear, while maintaining efficiency.
7. Plan your week
Many businesses have adapted the way in which they operate their business over the last 18 months, whether it’s offering more flexible working or allowing employees to work from home, it has meant commuters are spending less time travelling to work.
In a recent report from the Department for Transport, they found 41% of businesses are expecting to make fewer business trip after the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic, and half of businesses considered fully virtual meetings to be an adequate replacement for business trips. This change in behaviour could result in rush hour moving or possibly disappearing.
8. Public transport
Public transport reduces our personal energy consumption and harmful CO2 emissions that damage the environment, by sharing it amongst several passengers. Travelling by public transport uses less energy and produces less pollution than comparable travel in private vehicles.
9. Dust off the bicycle
Forbes reported a 63% increase in bicycle sales in 2020, resulting in £1 billion in bicycle sales generated in the UK during the pandemic. Whether it was reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19, wanting to shift a few pounds, or just explore around you, cycling contributes to cleaner, healthier air.
10. Shorten your journey
Can you shorten your journey in the car by walking the last bit, by finishing the school run off with a walk? This will be healthier for everyone and every little reduction helps with the carbon emissions. Or better still have you got a local ‘walking bus’ that you can help with, it could pick up your children and you can tag along for the exercise.