During the first lockdown of the pandemic many people turned to cycling to avoid using public transport. Since then, many European cities have created more cycle lanes to encourage cycling. The reduction in all forms of transport led to a huge drop in CO2 emissions, in London CO2 levels dropped by 59%, showing just how vital it is to change our attitude towards our constant use of CO2 emitting transport.
To be able to maintain this drop in CO2, cities and towns should consider continuing to invest in cycling solutions to reduce their carbon footprint. If we are to reach the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of creating sustainable cities and communities set out by the UN in 2015, it is essential that policies focus on affordable and achievable solutions that will meet this goal by 2030. Another goal set out in 2015 was the Climate Paris Agreement, aiming to keep temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius. With CO2 being a heat-trapping gas, it’s vital to ensure that CO2 levels are massively reduced. Taking transport that doesn’t emit CO2 would be a great first step in reducing your individual carbon footprint.
One of the cleanest and best forms of transport are bikes. They are a huge winner to be encouraged as they have zero pollution, low cost and are good for our health. According to the UNEP:
“cycling daily rather than taking a car for short trips outweigh the risks of inhalation of air pollutants. Daily exercise prolongs life expectancy by approximately 3.4 years whereas inhalation of polluted air reduces life expectancy by 1 to 40 days. Regular cycling boosts physical fitness and is an efficient way to prevent obesity.”
Cycling is clearly a great option not just for the environment, but for our mental and physical health. The more available it is to us, the more it will be taken up. We know of bike hire schemes appearing across large cities in the UK, but smaller towns and cities can look to do this as well. What is needed to encourage use is dedicated cycle lanes on main roads to make cycling safer for everyone and increased bike sharing schemes.
Although buying a bike might feel like a big investment think how much money you will save in the long run. There are second-hand websites where you can use pre-owned bikes which will be much cheaper (and environmentally friendly!) Now with cycling being made easier and safer around the world, what’s stopping you?