Spring has sprung - or at least the bulbs are coming up - and us less hardy cyclists are oiling our chains ready for eight months of feeling better about ourselves. Cycling has become my way of getting some sport into part of my working day. But I am still in the minority. Why are we being so slow at making our towns and cities more cyclable and walkable? We keep being told about a British obesity crisis, many of our cities' roads are clogged up seven days a week, car exhausts are blamed as a major contributor to breathing-related afflictions, the race for oil is well and truly on, and then there is that behemoth of a story: the world’s very existence as a climatically stable place is being threatened by our carbon emissions.
It’s a pretty confusing world that we live in. There are die-hard environmentalists who believe in reducing their carbon footprint and waste to as near zero as possible by doing away with life’s simple luxuries like toilet tissue and by semi-starving themselves into a state of listless stupor. But I believe that a sustainable, low-environmental- impact future will come from ‘creative energy’ individuals who value life’s luxuries and use their creative minds to find sustainable low-energy solutions. The world is not going to go back to a subsistence economy: my guess is that the majority would choose to live for today rather than join the climate nay-sayers and take a radical step backwards. Society has to remain a capitalist and thus a consumerist one and become sustainable.
Maybe it’s because we’re an island nation; maybe it’s because much of our colonial legacy isn’t considered a positive legacy – but we certainly know how to put up boundaries.
If the country were to bring in an international valuation company to value its assets then one of its most valuable holdings would certainly be its many miles of coastline, lakes, riverside and canal banks. People are drawn to the sea and in an increasingly crowded, stressful and fast-paced world, views out to oceans, bays, marshlands and mudflats are becoming more treasured. Add to that the increasing hassle of air travel, and you realise this national asset must be accumulating in value.