‘Tough choices necessary’
Tough choices will need to be made to end the reliance on the car says Carly Leonard, chief executive of the independent charity the Peterborough Environment City Trust. Whether that be congestion zones or ‘clean air zones’, which PECT would be happy to see investigated, change needs to come sooner rather than later. Carly said: “There probably will need to be difficult decisions made in order for us to get to where there’s less vehicles on the road, there’s less pollution, people are more active. “Those difficult things shouldn’t be shied away from they should all be investigated and all options should be looked at.”
PECT is doing its bit to lead from the front, with an electric company car and bikes for staff to get to meetings.
At the lower end of the scale Carly would like to see employers make it easier for people to walk or cycle into work, which might include putting in showers. And she highlighted an initiative in Bristol called Playing Out where a street can close a road for a period of time so residents can reclaim it and children can go out and play. “I think things like that alone won’t solve the problem, but they do give people that feeling of what it would be like if we weren’t overrun by cars all the time,” she said.
“I think the fewer cars on the road the safer people feel getting around. Also, from a pollution and a respiratory perspective it’s much better for people to walk down a path that’s not choked up by vehicles all the time.”
Looking at the broader picture, Carly says: “To some extent you need to make it slightly harder for the car to be the easiest option and a lot easier for it to be public transport, walking and cycling.”
For this she wants to see investment in sustainable transport infrastructure, adding: “A lot of the barriers people feel to getting active and getting healthy are it feels difficult and it feels like something they’re not quite sure where to start with.
“That starts with just getting out for a walk or walking to work or cycling. Rather than people thinking they have to go from nothing to going down the gym five times a week. It’s small steps.
“My top priority would be to make sure we have the best sustainable transport infrastructure in place and that it made it really enticing to get on your bike or walk to where you were going.”