Peter Blakeman of CCNB gave a presentation on climate change and air pollution on 11 March 2020
He spoke about the innumerable benefits of cycling to us all, in terms of personal health and increased life expectancy, and in terms of the positive impact on local quality of life and air quality. And of course, most saliently for the BCCF, an increase in cycling can help to reduce carbon emissions by reducing car use for local journeys. For longer journeys cycling can effectively be combined with public transport (rail/bus).
Much of what Peter spoke about can be read in more detail on North Bedfordshire Cycling Campaign website: http://ccnb.org.uk
CCNB has been campaigning for many years to promote cycling locally and to ensure better cycleways and provision for cyclists. He showed an inspirational film from Holland, demonstrating the excellent approach taken there in a nation of keen and regular cyclists. What we could aspire to here if more people could be encouraged to leave their cars and use bikes as CCNB advocates.
Dispiritingly, much of what CCNB has worked on over the years has been negatively impacted by the recent years of austerity which has led to reduced public investment in cycle infrastructure, and enforcement of planning conditions for cycle provision in new developments, not to mention the reduced promotion of cycling and alternatives to car transport. Various proposals and promises have not been delivered or postponed, although there is still hope that the proposed cycle path over the railway at Bromham bridge will be given the go-ahead.
After Peter’s talk there was a general discussion about the actions we could take to encourage more cycling and thereby reduce CO2 emissions from cars and reduce air pollution locally. There was a recognition that not all people are fit enough to walk and cycle, so there needs to be a discussion about how to include and support those with mobility issues who also wish to access the town centre in as environmentally friendly way as possible.
The main points that came up were:
We should all:
- walk/cycle for short journeys and shop locally where possible
- monitor planning applications and make representations if cycle provision is not properly addressed
- attend the monthly Bedford BC Climate Emergency Committee meetings and raise the issue that the Council needs to go beyond addressing its own carbon emissions and widen the committee’s remit to looking at the carbon emissions from the whole Bedford area (as Luton Council is proposing for the whole Luton area)
- consider joining the CCNB and attend their AGM on 24 April 2020
The local council should:
- end free car parking in Bedford at weekends – as it goes against the Council’s policy to address the climate emergency and encourage cycling
- abolish the penalty fines for cycling through the town centre
- introduce many more 20 mph speed limit zones on local roads
- ensure travel plans are included in planning conditions, and then enforced
- reappoint the cycle officer
- encourage local schools to carry out Bikeability (highway code) training for pupils so that they are more confident to cycle to school and locally.