Comment - Streets for Living / Road Safety
A resource, environmental and health triple whammy by David Hughes.
A few years ago I watched a man who lived only a few hundred metres away ushering his dog from the
back seat of a car to: "Give him a run in the park". At the time I assumed he had a mobility problem
because he had avoided the walk to the park, but how wrong I was! There is a significant number of dog
owners who understand that dogs need exercise, but don't apply that need to their own well-being.
Furthermore this matters in other ways: avoidance of a few minutes walk to a park using a car results in
the consumption of a disproportionate amount of finite oil whilst adding to global warming and damaging air
Similar behaviour is spreading like a plague. It's only a slight exaggeration to say that no-one now
drills a hole without power, or drives a screw, or clears their path of leaves, or mows a lawn, or cuts
a hedge, or inflates a car tyre, or many jobs like them. Yet, like walking the dog, or biking to work, or
housework (which is increasingly being farmed out to cleaners who drive to the job), they are all within
the physical compass of most people and excellent exercise.
Which begs the question: why is this happening when exercise is so patently good for you?
Firstly I think because many people now slip on a car as naturally as slipping on a pair of shoes. Secondly
because taking the drudgery out of work has evolved to a belief that jobs cannot be done without powered tools.
Thirdly because some people are now so unused to physical activity that they have no relationship with it.
And fourthly because people seem forever anxious to save time or avoid jobs, like cleaning, they perceive as
Unless a cleaner walks or bikes to the job all of these consume additonal energy.
Having saved all this time what do people do with it? The majority become unfit and overweight, but a
significant number are getting worried about their fitness. Solution: get into a car and drive to a gym.
"You couldn't make it up". Become unfit using scarce energy and increasing the probability of climate
change, then use more energy/add to climate change to reach a heated and lit gym. And joy: spend the time
you saved previously on a workout.
First published in the EGP members newsletter, June 2012