15 ways non-cyclists can help cyclists

I am at present a ‘non-cyclist’ due to having a young baby to care for and no way to transport him around using a bike. I am missing riding my bike and have come up with ways that my current inability to cycle doesn’t make it worse for those around me who are still able to. I will hopefully be back on my bike soon enough, but until then…

I plan my journey

  • For almost every journey, I choose to walk or take the bus, coach or train instead of driving. I use the Traveline website or app (for use in the UK). One car off the road will make everyone else’s journeys a little bit more pleasant.

If I do feel I ‘need’ to drive…

  • I leave plenty of time for my journey to avoid the need to speed and to reduce my stress levels, which could impact my driving skills.
  • I drive at 20 mph or less in residential streets.
  • I don’t take the scenic route, choosing motorways if possible to leave the country roads for the cyclists.
  • I share my journeys with friends, but I could also use websites such as liftshare or blablacar to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

I look after my car

  • I clean the windows and ensure that all lights are working correctly, to ensure the safety of others and myself and passengers.
  • I get my car serviced regularly to ensure that it isn’t puffing fumes in to the faces of the people I pass.
  • I follow advice about eco-driving, such as getting the tires pumped to the correct level and anticipating the road ahead. This will save money by reducing fuel consumption, which will also be a saving in pollution from the exhaust.
  • I don’t leave my car idling in traffic. This just creates pollution and noise for the local area.
  • When we bought our car, I choose one with an exhaust on the side furthest away from the pavement. Some particulates will settle out on to the road, so even another metre away from people’s lungs will help.

 

I look after my street

  • If I see a pot hole, I report it using Fill That Hole website or app to reduce the risk of injury to anyone on a bike.
  • I clear drains and pick up litter outside my house and along my street. Not only does this make it a more pleasant place for everyone travelling, but it also reduces the risk of local flooding.
  • I make my front garden attractive. People drive along pleasant streets slower than uncared-for roads. Foliage will reduce the concentration of air pollutants and reduce the noise from passing vehicles.

 

I campaign

  • I let my councillor know that I am fully supportive of all measures to improve active travel in my city, reduce air pollution, and reduce the requirement for car ownership.
  • I am a member of a number of cycling charities.

 

If anyone has any additional ways that I can help people that cycle whilst I can’t cycle myself, please leave a comment below. Thanks!

Reducing biodegradable waste… using a hot bin

Around a year ago, Cardiff Council seemingly ran out of money and most basic services were cut. There were no bags for compostable waste anywhere for months. I have a pet rabbit, so he gets through a fair amount of sawdust and straw. I had a compost bin, but it was constantly full and it couldn’t possibly process the volume of waste our house was producing, with all the garden waste too. Then a rat moved in to the compost. So I investigated online, and found a HotBin. This is a very well insulated compost bin that allows air to flow freely through the composting material, super-charging the speed that the matter composts down. It also stated the added benefit of being rat-proof, plus it could take all food waste, including cooked meats (which the rest of the household eats).

The price was a major consideration. It would mean buying when I’d promised to reduce consumption. However, I couldn’t bring myself to throw green waste in to the landfill bin, so I took the plunge and ordered one.

A year later, I still think this is the best thing ever. I now dig out the compost from the base every four months and move this to the old compost heap to finish maturing until I need to mulch the garden. (Digging out the hot bin would be a great task for any budding archeologists.) I spent the day yesterday spreading the best compost I have ever made, soft and black and crumbly, with evidence of crushed egg shells and dark brown meat bones as the only sign of food waste.

Setting up the bin was easy, with steam being produced within a few days. My only wish is that I had a greenhouse, as I reckon if this was located inside, the amount of heat this bin produces could keep a winter greenhouse or polytunnel a few degrees warmer to keep salads going for longer. (Although it can smell if it starts to go anaerobic, so it may make the greenhouse a less pleasant place to be. I just use a stick to stir holes through to keep the air flow moving.)

There is more information on the website, HotBincomposting.com

Seeing as my council may soon take all food waste for anaerobic digestion, and garden waste for composting, is it worth having my own waste treatment system? I would say at the moment, definitely. The cost to the council to treat the waste will be at least £35/tonne, but they will be able to generate power from the biogas. When they get the digester started, it may be different. But for now, I get superb compost and no hassles when the council don’t collect the waste.

How can I reduce the climate impact of a flight?

Firstly, don’t fly. All the good you do in the home or daily travel is absolutely dwarfed by carbon emissions from a single flight. Read up about holidays that don’t involve flying and try and convince whoever you normally holiday with that these are better holidays. Wherever you live, look up the best train journeys, (Deutsche Bahn for Europe) bus journeys, cycling journeys, or ferries, and aim to travel and experience, not just fly. Visit The Man in Seat Sixty-One for further guidance on planeless travel around the world.

However, if not flying is not possible, then try to… Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW….Oil: A concise guide to the most important product on earth

Author: Matthew Yeomans

ISBN: 1-59558-028-X

This is Matthew Yeomans’ essential guide to a product that now rules every aspect of our lives. The book aims to highlight the enormous influence we have allowed oil to have on our standard of living. In so doing, we are provided with the knowledge of what the future holds if we can’t break free.

The book commences with a race through the last 150 years of oil growth and dependency in 30 short pages. The aim is to show that this timeframe is a blink-of-the-eye in terms of human Continue reading