According to official figures emerging today cycling rates have decreased in Scotland, leading to campaigners calling for the Scottish Government to increase its spending on walking and cycling to a 10% share of the overall transport budget by 2020.
In a letter to the Finance Secretary Derek Mackay, an alliance of fourteen organisations ranging from public health charities to children’s rights organisations to environmental campaigns urged for the Scottish Government to invest in cycle and walking paths to benefit health, the environment, and the economy.
A snapshot of cycle statistics in Scotland:
– In 2015, only 1.2% of journeys were made by bike.
– This is a decrease from 2014, when 1.4% of trips were made by bike.
– Cycle rates have been stalled at under 2% of all trips for over a decade.
– Only 1.9% of the transport budget went towards building walking and cycling paths in 2015.
– The transport sector accounts for 28% of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions and little progress has been made in reducing carbon emissions from the sector since 1990.
The transport sector is the main cause of Scotland’s air pollution health crisis, responsible for thousands of early deaths each year. Air pollution safety standards continue to be breached in 32 Pollution Zones across Scotland.
The group stressed that investing in walking and cycling works, citing the example of Edinburgh City Council. It noted that Edinburgh Council has bucked the national trend on cycling rates for the last few years and over 10% of trips to work are currently made by bike in the Capital, due to the Council’s incremental investment in active travel, which is now at 9% of its transport budget.
Air pollution, mainly from traffic, is a major cause of early death in Scotland, and has been linked to cancer, heart attacks, and strokes.
Air Pollution Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, Emilia Hanna, said:
“Air pollution, mainly from traffic, is a major cause of early death in Scotland, and has been linked to cancer, heart attacks, and strokes. Walking and cycling would be realistic alternatives to the car for millions of trips every year if only the Scottish Government were to provide the desperately needed investment in high quality walking and cycling paths which make people feel safe. If investment rates don’t change, then cycle rates won’t change. The best bit is that it doesn’t require any new money from Government but rather a shift in existing spending away from building yet more roads towards healthier, active travel.”
The Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland, Tam Baillie said:
“Children have the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, and this right is being directly threatened by air pollution worldwide and here in Scotland. There is an ever-growing body of evidence that toxic air can stunt children’s lung growth and development. We call on the Scottish Government to invest a greater share of its transport budget in walking and cycling infrastructure, in order to create safe, convenient and viable ways for people to travel by pollution-free modes. A shift from car traffic towards cycles and walking will create cleaner air and a healthier environment, benefiting our children and future generations.”
Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead, Obesity Action Scotland said:
“The levels of obesity and overweight in Scotland are unacceptably high; 65% of adults are overweight and 28% are obese, ranking Scotland 5th highest for overweight and 6th highest for obesity in the OECD. The resulting financial impact on NHS Scotland is estimated to be £363m per year. By creating healthy lifestyle environments, such as active travel infrastructure and healthy food environments, we can empower a culture shift across Scotland which will bring multiple benefits to the fabric of society in this country.”
Pedal on Parliament Organiser, Sally Hinchliffe, said:
“We note that the government has recently reaffirmed its intention to see 10% of journeys by bike by 2020 — after all, so many other policies depend on achieving that target such as carbon emissions reductions. It’s only logical, then, that 10% of the transport budget should go towards active travel, for how else would that vision be achieved?”
Campaigner for Spokes, Dave du Feu, said:
“With under 2% of its transport budget allocated to cycling, the SNP manifesto’s “determination” to achieve its “vision” of 10% of journeys by bike in 2020 is in fact a mirage. Evidence from English towns and from Europe suggests 10% of journeys by bike would not even be achieved by 2030 at this level of investment.”
Chief Executive at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, Mark O’Donnell, said:
“Air pollution and physical inactivity are major causes of stroke, heart disease, and chest illness in Scotland, and disproportionately affect many of the most vulnerable people in our society. Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland call on the Scottish Government to urgently increase its spending on active travel to enable it to meet its 2020 target, and to help tackle our endemic health inequalities.”
Irene Johnstone, Head of the British Lung Foundation Scotland, said:
“More people died from lung conditions last year in Scotland than from heart disease and the numbers are rising. Our polluted urban areas and cities, particularly Glasgow, have the highest lung disease death rates in the UK. Air pollution affects our most vulnerable in society. It can cause serious problems for people living with lung conditions, poses a real danger to children’s growing lungs, and usually affects those living in deprived areas the most. It’s a public health crisis.”
Extra-Mile Water Conservation Efforts Amidst Shortage
While some states are literally flooding due to heavy rains and run-off, others are struggling to get the moisture they need. States like Arizona and California have faced water emergencies for the last few years; water conserving efforts from citizens help keep them out of trouble.
If your area is experiencing a water shortage, there are a few things you can do to go the extra mile.
Repair and Maintain Appliances
Leaks around the house – think showerheads, toilets, dishwashers, and more – lead to wasted water. Beyond that, the constant flow of water will cause water damage to your floors and walls. Have repairs done as soon as you spot any problems.
Sometimes, a leak won’t be evident until it gets bad. For that reason, make appointments to have your appliances inspected and maintained at least once per year. This will extend the life of each machine as well as nip water loss in the bud.
When your appliances are beyond repair, look into Energy Star rated replacements. They’re designed to use the least amount of water and energy possible, without compromising on effectiveness.
Only Run Dishwasher and Washer When Full
It might be easier to do a load of laundry a day rather than doing it once per week, but you’ll waste a lot more water this way. Save up your piles of clothes until you have enough to fully load the washing machine. You could also invest in a washing machine that senses the volume of water needed according to the volume of clothes.
The same thing goes with the dishwasher. Don’t push start until you’ve filled it to capacity. If you have to wash dishes, don’t run the water while you’re washing. Fill the sink or a small bowl a quarter of the way full and use this to wash your dishes.
Recycle Water in Your Yard
Growing a garden in your backyard is a great way to cut down on energy and water waste from food growers and manufacturers, but it will require a lot more water on your part. Gardens must be watered, and this often leads to waste.
You can reduce this waste by participating in water recycling. Using things like a rain barrel, pebble filtering system, and other tools, you can save thousands of gallons a year and still keep your landscaping and garden beautiful and healthy.
Landscape with Drought-Resistant Plants
Recycling water in your yard is a great way to reduce your usage, but you can do even more by reducing the amount of water required to keep your yard looking great. The best drought-resistant plants are those that are native to the area. In California, for example, succulents grow very well, and varieties of cactus do well in states like Arizona or Texas.
Install Water-Saving Features
The average American household uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water every single day. You obviously can’t cut out things like showering or using the toilet, but you can install a few water-saving tools to make your water use more efficient.
There are low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucet aerators. You could also use automatic shut-off nozzles, shower timers, and grey water diverters. Any of these water saving devices can easily cut your water usage in half.
Research Laws and Ordinances for Your City
Dry states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada must create certain laws to keep the water from running out. These laws are put into practice for the benefit of everyone, but they only work if you abide by the laws.
If you live in a state where drought is common, research your state and city’s laws. They might designate one day per week that you’re allowed to water your lawn or how full you can fill a pool. Many people are not well versed in the laws set by their states, and it would mean a lot to your community if you did your part.
Cyprus is the Forerunner for Ecotourism
When I was looking for a second citizenship, I happened to see One Visa’s offer on Cyprus Citizenship by investment program. I had heard about Cyprus being a beautiful country, but I did not know much else, so I decided to start my own research about this gem of a place.
After I did some research, I discovered that Cyprus is a popular destination for tourists. Unfortunately, heavy tourism and the associated development affected villages here and there, with some communities being slowly abandoned. To avoid this from happening any further, Cyprus went into ecotourism, and today, it is the forerunner in this arena. Let’s look in further detail at ecotourism in Cyprus here.
How was it started?
It all started in 2006 with the launch of the “Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative.” This program has the sole scope of promoting ecotourism developments in the tourism industry. It concentrates on those areas which require conservation and environmental safety. At the same time, it helps develop social, as well as economic statuses in the rural parts of Cyprus. Through this program, the government was able to acknowledge that ecotourism will play an essential role in the future of Cyprus, with the concept gaining momentum among tourists from all over the globe.
How to go about it?
So, now you are interested in going for an ecotourism vacation in Cyprus. How will you go about it? I would immediately say that everyone should visit the quaint Cypriot villages spread throughout the island. These communities have a smaller population, and not many tourists visit. They make for a great relaxing spot. Enjoy seeing the bustle of village life go by where simple pleasures abound. Most hamlets are linked by specific minibus tours which ferry tourists to these havens. These trips will have a regular schedule, aimed at promoting ecotourism further. Such tours will be regulated to ensure that while the villages can benefit and develop, they do not get overpopulated or overcrowded with tourists. Therefore, you can be sure to enjoy the beautiful sceneries that nature has to offer here.
If you are wondering if there are any activities to do here, my answer would be: “Yes, plenty.” You can go for some guided walks across various regions here. Here you will be able to explore the diversified natural beauty and wildlife of the area. Several agritourism activities and services are planned to open shortly. Once launched, you will be able to engage in picking olives, milking goats, and several other such events here.
What can be learned?
Although we are aware that natural resources need to be preserved, we do not always remember it in real life. When we go on tours such as these, we can realize the significance of protecting nature. Also, when more and more people visit these places, the concept of ecotourism will become popular among more people. Awareness about ecotourism is set to grow and spread throughout the world. Subsequently, sustainable tourism will gain popularity around the globe with Cyprus being the forerunner for ecotourism .