Is it a New type of Sustainable ”Diet” or “Workout”…?

Runs on money or fat

One week it is the 5:2 diet, next week it is the LCHF, then the Atkins-diet and the Cambridge-diet… there is an abundance of them – what about a method that not only is good for you but also for the Climate… and your wallet…

Just the other week I heard an interview, in connection to a recent study about driving habits – a young person was confronted with the law, stating that it was illegal to send SMS while driving your car – his obvious choice then was to “ditch the car“…

Unlucky when thinking…

I have an intelligent friend (no names) whose intelligence I am starting to be doubtful about…
He always considers himself in good shape, and he is. This summer, over a lunch, he told me that he was a bit annoyed because he had got a speeding ticket again the previous day – as a good friend I asked him to tell me all about it…
Turned out that in the morning he had taken his 215 hp car to work as usual (6 km) and after a day at work he was a little late for his “spinning-class” at our local gym. So on his way back home (6 km) he exceeded the speed limit “only slightly” and of course to his “bad luck”, the police where monitoring speed at that specific stretch of asphalt… price tag = 2400 SEK ($375)
Well, at least he was only a little late for his exercise… Once he calmed down I asked him how much exercise he usually gets at a spinning-class – apparently it was about the equivalence of 12 to 14 km. At that point I couldn’t help asking, “But why don’t you use your bike to your work and back home again” – he answered “Sure – That would really make me late for spinning-class”…

I’m still not sure whether he really understood my question or if he now considers me a distant friend with a very “limited intellect” – well, we are still friends, so time will tell…

The Better way of life!

Every time I go to Copenhagen, I am amazed about the cycling-culture – last time I visited with my own bike, our local train allows you to bring your bike as a “carry-on” item, it was also the first time I experienced a “bicycle-highway”… the speed of those experienced “hard-core” cyclists… wooah!

But most of all I love the difference in “tempo” once you reach the areas where cars are partly “banned” – this is the way city-life should be – lively neighbourhoods with restaurants, bars, offices, apartments and stores, an area where you can actually feel, smell, see and touch life…

Occasionally there is a car, but it’s there under “human conditions”, not the other way around, and has to meet the requirements from a majority of pedestrians and cyclists.

CPH-Bicycle city

I am also fascinated by the innovativeness you find everywhere, how people find new and smart solutions for a life without cars, whether it’s a customized tricycle to transport your family or a version that can transport and serve as the base for your entire business.

One thing that is largely missing, is the “show-off-my-money-attitude” which is very common in other more “car-focused” areas – people who arrogantly park their huge SUV’s or other flashy and expensive cars, not seldom in awkward places, just to make some kind of statement – instead you find a place where people matter…

Businesses as well
IKEA-bike
And businesses are “getting it” adapting for a more sustainable life, everywhere you see people bringing their groceries home, not seldom on a tricycle from a nearby food-store or market hall – “nearby” being the key-word here, as an opposite to “far-away-shopping-mall-on-the-outskirts-of-town”.
And some go even further, creating home-transport solutions well suitable for a city with a strong bicycle-culture…

Reclaim the City

You know what, when we reclaim cities and transform them to a place where people are in the centre “strange” things happen. In the 80-ies when I visited New York, I remember walking on Broadway; overwhelmed by the traffic-chaos and the noise, breathing air that was kind of “visible”, thinking – “Is this really the way people want to live in the future”…

I have visited New York a number of times since then – talk about transformation – although traffic is still alarmingly intense in many areas, things are changing, just look at how Broadway has been revamped and today has a far better ratio of people/cars. The Highline “city-park” is another example.

Many people that I have talked to express the same experience, New York has actually become a more people-friendly place to be…

Broadway-North-of-Union-Square-After

Broadway North of Union Square, Photo Credit: NYC DOT

New York - Highline

The High Line, Photo Credit: High Line Flickr Pool

 

 

And you can probably point out numerous other examples where smart thinking and planning have resulted in city-solutions where people are in the centre.

Being smart in advance…

In the beginning of summer I went to Freiburg in the southwest of Germany. Except that it is a beautiful city, my main objective was to study how they very successfully have integrated photovoltaics and a lot of other Sustainable “features” in city planning and buildings.
When I checked in at the hotel I immediately received a one-day ticket to the public transport system (mainly trams) it is always included in the price…
In the afternoon our guide arrived, he walked us from the hotel to the nearby tram and then brought us around on foot and tram to visit a number of different interesting housing projects with integrated solar panels and other sustainable functions – a lot of smart and well integrated as well as nice looking solutions

Freiburg-TramOne thing I especially remember was a photo-collage from the development of an entire city district – long before any house was built, the tram-line was in place complete with trams, stops and platforms, everything complete, clearly “shouting out” the message – this area is planned for people, not for cars… Today when the district is almost “finished”, it is a beautiful urban area with only very, very few cars, but with a lot of trees, birds, interesting architecture and, above all – people…

Sacrificing what?

Sometimes I get a bit “tired” when people again and again states that becoming sustainable means
“to sacrifice our current lifestyle”…

Isn’t it about time to realize that there is no sacrifice; it is only a matter of choice.

Let’s look at my friend again – if he had made the smarter choice, using his bike back and forth to work he could have skipped “spinning-class”, he would have reached 12 km/day anyway – Maybe he could even have worked a little less, considering he wouldn’t need to fuel his car that often, maybe he wouldn’t need the car at all, that would really save him money (and environment) – where is the sacrifice here – working a little less, getting his exercise, reduced number of speeding tickets…

…choose smarter transportation!

PS:
If you want to read a really good article on how City life can be, don’t miss the recent article by Charles Montgomery, in the Guardian “The secrets of the world’s happiest cities” (Link)
Or if you prefer a short video, why not watch this recent TED-Talk “New York’s streets? Not so mean any more” by Janette Sadik-Khan, transportation commissioner of New York City (Link)