Clearly the current pandemic has created a huge amount of suffering and no doubt will continue to have a negative impact on our lives in terms of our freedoms and our economy for a long time to come.
Nothing we can do will make up for the suffering or make things ok again but it does seem that we have an opportunity, perhaps a duty, to ensure that we make the most of the choices and decisions that we have as a community and a wider society as we enter a “new normal”.
On that basis it is encouraging to see all the imaginative ideas that are being developed around the globe and closer to home. Local authorities are being encouraged to reclaim their streets; lanes previously dedicated to vehicles are now being reclaimed to create wider footpaths and carve out new traffic free cycle lanes. Make shift planters are being constructed, out of whatever was to hand, and are being placed across street entrances to seal off the area for households to enjoy a traffic free space right there outside their houses. Pictures of street long disco’s, yoga sessions and painting sessions have popped up in these spaces. Spaces where the priority has swung back to people instead of vehicles. Freeing up the space and improving the air we breath.
Clearly there needs to be a balance as we all enjoy the practical uses and invaluable contribution that our modern vehicles have on our lives but the trick is to ensure that we consider and make a positive shift towards redressing the balance. Should our cities, towns, villages start by considering the needs of us all to drive and be driven about or should the places that we live in be more about us all still being able to get about freely maybe by walking or cycling on quieter roads and leaving our cars at home more.
These are choices that we have all had to make during the lockdown period and the overwhelming reaction has been positive. The choices we have going forward, as the lockdown eases, are whether to perhaps negotiate the opportunity to carry on working from home; or to decide to walk or cycle instead of drive; or perhaps to use our newly found “zoom” skills to video conference instead of driving all day for an hours face to face meeting. Perhaps we should resent the time that we have to spend in the car more and celebrate the time we release through not having to drive.
Sustainable Hertford Heath is planning to launch “A Million Mile Challenge” later this year. More of that in due course.