When a storm makes you re-think the need to travel

Goodbye and good riddance, Storm Ciara! Most of last week I saw the forecasts, learned about potential disruptions in the news, and heard the ‘do not travel’ announcements by train companies. So as the storm rolled in on Saturday afternoon, I heeded the warnings and cancelled my Sunday plans. I also hate storms – they can be seriously dangerous things and make my house shake.

While I was cancelling plans and hunkering down, it occurred to me that, much like my efforts to be greener, Storm Ciara was forcing me to ask myself whether or not the journey I had planned was really necessary.

As you’ll see from an earlier blog, I’m trying to reduce my transport emissions by reducing vehicle use by using public transport and cycling and walking. This also entails sometimes choosing not to travel at all. So Storm Ciara’s effect on me chimed well with the kind of choices I’m having to make to reduce my environmental footprint.

A lot of us have cars parked in the drive for us to just take when we want – even for short trips. We often don’t really question the need to travel – we just do it. Because of the convenience of it.

Here are some stats from the Scottish Government (from 2018) that show that a majority of road journeys we make are short:

16% of car journeys made were under 1km (0.6 miles)

53% were under 5km (3 miles).

To me, that last figure is amazing. Over half our high carbon car journeys could be replaced by lower carbon alternative – a 25 min cycle or 45 min walk (if we gave ourselves the time and effort to take these options).

The important question the stats don’t show is how many of these journeys are really essential?

When we had a car, I wouldn’t think twice about jumping in it to nip to the shops to get some milk, to the pool, to a cafe or into town.

Since having sold the family car, we’ve had to become much more resourceful in terms of thinking of alternatives to driving. Or, importantly, choosing sometimes just not to travel for journeys that don’t really need to be made.

So, back to this stormy weekend and my shaky house. With travel plans cancelled and cabin fever having set in before midday, I decided to walk (with child) the mile and a half into town instead – the form of transport with least emissions and highest fitness/wellbeing value. We had a great time. We picked up fallen sticks and branches, jumped over puddles and threw our gloves wildly into the wind.

Jumping over puddles!

So thanks, Storm Ciara, for focusing my mind on what travel is essential and what’s maybe not. I reckon I can get the hang of the thinking, but I’d rather you didn’t make my house shake as much.

If you’ve got any views or experiences, please share them here and start a discussion. Did the storm make you think twice about travelling? Are there other ways you think we can cut out short journeys and reduce our carbon footprint?

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