LGiU Scotland’s Kim Fellows blogs about her positive experience with Clean Air Day 2018 in Edinburgh and how we can continue these efforts to reduce air pollution in the future.
As part of my quest to stay fit I tend to walk as much as I can to and from meetings in town. I read that Thursday June 21st was Clean Air Day 2018, so I made a special effort and was pleasantly surprised to find that Edinburgh City Council were hosting an event in support of this idea. I am sure there were many more events of this sort around Scotland too.
We know that air pollution is real and a serious risk to health. So, true to the idea, I rounded up a few friends and we walked & cycled into Edinburgh, meeting at St Giles church. Then, to start a really fun morning, we went for coffee first at an independent café with real cups – none of your disposable ones on my watch! Suitably refreshed, we strolled right down the Mound, a road that had been closed to traffic. It was lovely to have all the space, and as it was World Selfie Day too all the tourist were able to indulge that passion without dicing with death, or being trampled by commuters.
We watched children protest for clean air and even participated in a yoga class in the middle of the road. We then went for a stroll around a car-free and carefree George St and into St Andrews Square. Bliss.
My reflections on the day were really positive and I will contribute my views to the Sustrans survey (which Edinburgh citizens can complete). Edinburgh’s streets felt more peaceful, spacious and it was a joy to be in the city centre. I have mild asthma and I definitely felt the benefit of reduced car fumes in my breathing. I was surprised also that my walk from home to St Giles took 31 mins. I often take the bus when I am in a hurry but walking was actually faster, cheaper and healthier. Afterwards, I was delighted to read that it was so successful that more car free events are planned. On a final, more serious note, if Scotland is facing an obesity problem, which it is, then encouraging more walking and active travel as a mode of transport could be part of a multi-faceted solution to that issue.
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