Guest blog written by Active Lincolnshire's People & Place Manager, Matt Evans
On 31st October, the UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. The summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
In Lincolnshire, we have seen first-hand the effects of flooding and extreme weather in our towns and villages. Looking back prior to the pandemic, countless football, rugby, golf, tennis (the list goes on), fixtures have been cancelled due to wet pitches or overbearing temperatures.
Whilst we have vast areas of rural landscape, our towns are often clogged up with vehicles trying to navigate their way to, from and through. With limited public transport services, it is inevitable that people default to their cars, but the question we have to ask ourselves is “Do we really need to?”. I’ve been there, sat in the queue of traffic waiting to get onto the Holdingham Roundabout and then crawling bumper to bumper trying to climb through Lincoln. There are some journeys that just won't work unless we use the car, but what about those shorter ones?
30.2% of Lincolnshire’s adult population is inactive, 1 in 6 people do “nothing” in terms of physical activity and, as a county, our activity levels rank us in the bottom 14% in the country. It’s bleak reading and a ticking timebomb for the health of our population.
Whilst attendance at club-based activities should never be frowned upon, the issues we face today aren’t linked to people going to the gym or playing netball with their friends. What we are challenged with is movement. Movement for life and health not for sport and fitness. Our colleagues at Active Humber have put it simply: “You sit for long periods, you die. You move, death finds it a bit harder to catch up with you.”
This time sensitive pressure is echoed with the planet. A report from the UN, featured on BBC news, earlier this week said, with 90% accuracy, that human influence is very likely to be the main driver of the global retreat of glaciers since the 1990s. That melting has a direct impact on sea levels and a rise of 2 meters cannot be ruled out by the end of this century. That would have catastrophic consequences for Lincolnshire. The report goes on to estimate a 1.5C increase in global temperatures by 2034, unless action is taken immediately, which means by 2050 the Arctic will be practically ice-free during September.
What can we do?
Since 2018, the Let’s Move Lincolnshire strategy has sat across sectors and has challenged us to increase physical activity through active environments, systems, places and people. It is currently being refreshed in reaction to the latest data, covid19 and the Sport England national strategy: “Uniting the Movement” but the principles remain the same. We simply must move more than we currently do in order to lead healthier happier lives.
Right now, we are urging everyone to think about your shorter local journeys. Instead of getting the car out, can you walk or use your bike? One great initiative to help support us is Cycle September powered by Love to Ride Lincolnshire. Click here to register This initiative operates all over the globe and offers rewards for people that log rides. There are already over 4,000 Lincolnshire people using it and for those that tag “active travel” as their reason for riding, not only will they reduce their carbon footprint but they could also win prizes. Employers can get involved too and challenge their workforce to swap the car for the bike wherever possible.
Research undertaken by the University of East Anglia reported that events targeted at specific workplaces that are willing to engage may help nudge people who do not usually cycle to work, but who cycle for travel elsewhere frequently or occasionally, to change their mode of commuting.
Often, when we do things together, we are more motivated and therefore less likely to opt-out. It's unlikely that one person riding a bike will help climate change but, much like the R rate (the rate of transmission of a virus), if one person inspires another and they inspire another before long we could have a cycling pandemic!
Whilst the Olympics again shone a spotlight on the most elite riders in the world; the velodrome and BMX successes being wonderful events for team GB, British Cycling have also been supporting the novice cyclist too. They have recently released a wonderful resource to support us with commuting via bike.
There are other resources being added to the Knowledge Hub too and over the next few months there are a range of opportunities across Lincolnshire for people to cycle and consider switching those short car journeys for a more active and healthier mode.
At Active Lincolnshire, we are delighted to be working with a number of partners to advocate and support more active environments. If you want to work with us on this, please do get in touch with Matthew Evans, Active People and Place Manager.