Walk for Winchester

feet-first-logo-low-resWinchester City Council’s new corporate campaign for 2016/17 is Feet First, a campaign to promote walking instead of driving for short journeys.

It is not yet clear what the campaign will consist of, but we all know walking instead of driving has numerous health benefits. It also helps cut pollution from transport, thus improving air quality. Currently it is estimated there are 40,000 early deaths from air pollution every year in the UK.

The UK exceeds EU pollution limits in many towns and cities across the country including Winchester. The limit for NO2 is 40gm3 and is broken on all the major arteries of the city with it being worst in St George’s Street (62), Jewry Street (52) and Romsey Road (64). Closer to home on Stockbridge Road the levels are lower at 27gm3 which doesn’t exceed the limit but is still quite high. A major source of NO2 is known to be exhaust emissions and although I can’t detect NO2 myself I can certainly smell high concentrations of exhaust fumes when I walk down towards the tunnel.

For us living in Fulflood, going into town is just one example of a short journey. To walk into the city centre takes about 15/20 mins, cycling is even quicker. There is also a regular daytime bus service. Driving in at most times during the day will take longer than walking if you allow for time to park your car and congestion.

Cars cost much more to run than most people realise, especially second cars that are not used as often. It could even be cheaper to rent a car for the few times you really need one than owning a second car. This might make you think twice about driving those short distances.

But there are times when you still need to travel longer distances and a car would be the most convenient. Perhaps one answer is to join a Car Club instead? Eastleigh has a successful scheme with 4 cars available to use around the town. It works because of business buy-in and is cheaper and easier to use for members than renting. It has been tried before in Winchester, but with better planning perhaps it could work this time.

Society puts many pressures on us and it is a shame that time is so short that we feel we need to rush around. Cars have allowed us to maintain this pressure at, I would say, the detriment to the community. But spring has sprung and the weather is getting better. What better time to get outside. Why not pledge to support the Council’s initiative and walk all small journeys and get to know the people around you even more.

Winchester City Council – Feet First

Giles Gooding

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