I’ll start off with a little disclaimer. This is a personal story of one MUCH member’s journey towards reducing their carbon footprint through ‘Active Travel’. It might help us shape a future MUCH transport policy, but more importantly it might act as a bit of encouragement to any readers considering making the same lifestyle choices.
Once upon a time when I was a single working mum bringing up two daughters on my own, with ageing parents living 100 miles away and the father of my daughters living 50 miles away in the opposite direction, I used to drive quite a lot.
But family life and personal circumstances changed, at the same time as awareness of climate change grew. My parents died, my daughters grew up and left home, sometimes I cycled to work. I swapped the family sized estate for a small hybrid – plenty big enough to carry me and my camping equipment. I went on holiday to Europe by train a few times. I used the train more in the uk. Of course that is a lot easier for someone like me living in south Manchester – I have lots of transport choices, own a car and a bike and am fit and healthy enough to walk and ride to lots of everyday destinations.
Before I retired in 2020 (just before lockdown) I was only driving about 3000 miles a year. The overheads of owning a car as well as paying train fares meant it was starting to look more economical to sell the car and join the local car club or use traditional car hire.
But then covid struck. And I kept the car as my security blanket. Like many others, I left home as little as possible, and reverted to using my car when I did. Mainly for grocery shopping, and a few brief meetings with more distant friends and family members. I applied for my bus pass, and paid a small amount to extend it to metro and rail journeys within Greater Manchester.
I still have the car, but now it is sitting, neglected, on my drive. I’m back to walking with my shopping trolley to the shops once a week or so. I’ve been discovering I can cycle to places I used to drive to.
This July I kept a travel diary of my journeys. Out of a total of 24, most were made on foot, or by bike. I used my car for a short but distant camping holiday, and went into the city centre by tram once. Before each journey I considered whether I could make it under my own steam (or to use the currently popular term – Active Travel). I’ve discovered I often can if I just plan ahead a bit!
Sian, August 2021