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Killing Two Birds With One Stone

By James Sloan, Albury

It is no coincidence that the countries with the greatest per capita emissions also have some of the highest levels of obesity. In simple terms, both have the same causes: greed and laziness. We are a bad global neighbour. We throw our rubbish onto the global nature strip because we are too lazy to clean up our act. We live unsustainable and selfish lifestyles. Changing our ways will help save the world and save our own health.

It is not just individuals’ fault. Work places and schools do not make it easy to commute other than by car. Enormous resources are expended to park your monster to carry one little (although getting fatter) person. Many work places do not provide bike or changing facilities.
Once, children rode bikes to school. Now, schools actively discourage riding. If children were riding or walking there would be less traffic and more incidental exercise. Surely we can do that in Albury/Wodonga.

In 1986 I spent a couple of weeks in Hardenberg in Holland. Hardenberg had a fantastic network of bike paths. Cycling commuters were the norm. Mothers rode to school with a line of children on bikes behind them like mother duck with her ducklings. It was a delightful place because cars were not given priority. That was 25 years ago. In Australia 2011 we are light years from what Holland was doing 25 years ago.

In London about four times as many people ride to work than in Melbourne, which has a more suitable climate. In Japan everyone rides. Not fancy racing bikes, just functional bikes and all ages of people in their everyday clothes. It is wonderful to see old women with school kids riding together. We need to normalise riding so the majority are commuters getting unintentional exercise and reducing pollution and congestion.

We are so wedded to our cars we take it for granted most of our open space is a very unpleasant passage for them. These inefficient monsters are delivering one person a couple of kilometres. There must be healthier and more efficient ways of doing things.

Maybe it is pie in the sky, but imagine what a better place our city would be with less vehicles, less pollution and more active and healthy citizens.