…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World
It was World Car Free Day on Monday 22nd September. Of course I didn’t drive – but that’s because most days I don’t – most days I cycle. However I was away for the weekend with my car, to camp and watch the Southport Air Show (100 miles/a few hours drive away). I had actually considered cycling the distance and camping on route for a couple of nights, but I wasn’t all that motivated to do that in the end and work kept cropping up so I didn’t have enough days left when the time came.
Because of my weekend away, it was that which made me more mindful of Car Free Day, more-so than the actual Monday it was held on. Driving to Southport on the Friday was good – I found where the place was, as I had not been there before, and then I drove on to find a camp site, I pitched my tent and slept at a little farm for the night amongst ducks and other feathered creatures. I woke early on Saturday morning and walked on to the Air Show.
I had my bearings a little wrong from the day before when I was locating a camp site, and even though I had been pointed in the direction of one village for a bus stop, should I choose to travel into Southport proper by bus (which I wasn’t prepared to do because I don’t do buses), and because, according to my bearings, the way in to Southport was actually in the other direction, I headed off on a very long walk.
It was a funny walk though. I had been advised against driving to the air show by the friendly people at the camp site, because of the traffic congestion, and even though I ended up walking for a few hours, I walked past almost ten miles of stationary traffic all queuing for the air show. It made me laugh that so many people were mindlessly sitting in their cars for hours, waiting to arrive, rather than actively getting themselves there on foot (there were people even queuing for a bus that was half a mile down the road and stuck in the same traffic right in front of them!) At the Air Show itself I had sat down for an hour before I started seeing people arrive in their cars which I had walked passed a few hours earlier. Some people were arriving irate and annoyed at the people manning the entrance – one lady shouted out of her car window “Why aren’t you directing the traffic?” Any rational person could see that it was a queue and it was making its own progress in accordance with the laws of physics (the number of cars trying to make their way down one stretch of road to the same place) – there was no directing warranted, it would have achieved nothing in the way of reducing congestion.
The annoying thing about seeing so many people stuck in their cars is that many mindlessly keep the engine running, eagerly awaiting that short crawl forward once in a very long while. Utterly stupid. A few weeks ago in the news there were reports about how drivers of diesel-powered cars were told to switch their vehicles off when stationary due to the excessive harmful emissions they release (compared to petrol). It was not just this weekend when I was mindful of how motorists can be – I often have criticising thoughts about them, such as when perfectly able-bodied people use their cars for pathetically short journeys – I almost find it offensive. It’s easy to be this way while being a cyclist I think, perhaps because of the different perspective it gives you.
On the second day, with my bearings corrected I didn’t have as far to walk, which was a good thing for my poor leg muscles which were shot, and the blisters on my heels, the weather was improved and I was in good spirits and looking forward to seeing the Vulcan Bomber which had been cancelled the day before. My amusement was also heightened when walking past all of the traffic again, this time with a few cars suffering with the heat.
I think the moral of this story is that we should all consider the journeys we make, and perhaps not consider our cars to be Option #1 and then work in other means of getting from A to B, but to instead plan our journeys from a non-car-use perspective, going on foot or by bicycle and then only using other modes of transport if strictly necessary. By doing this, the greener methods become the default ones. For me World Carfree Day is most days – but it’s nice to have to one day to be more mindful about how I get around.