Air pollution now kills almost as many people in London every year as smoking.
Carcinogenic diesel particles cause lung cancer.
And new research shows exhaust fumes stunt children’s lung growth.
Reducing their lung volume.
Setting them up for years of respiratory disease.
But you know what?
It’s not some big bad monster doing this.
Every time we hop in our cars.
To nip here and nip there.
We’re killing our kids.
And it’s crazy, cos you know what?
1 in 3 car journeys in London is less than 1.2 miles.
That’s the length of Oxford Street for cripes sake!
(It’s pretty similar in other cities.)
Are we really prepared to kill our kids for the privilege of not having to walk down Oxford Street?!
And it’s crazy, cos we’re all waiting for government or lawyers or some awfully important commission to do something – or other – about it.
When we don’t need to wait.
The power is in OUR hands.
WE are poisoning our kids and WE can stop poisoning our kids.
With the simplest, simplest act of ALWAYS walking the mile.
If, tomorrow, we all stopped making those little journeys we’d take 30% of cars off our streets.
Just like that.
And then – with less traffic – it becomes easier to cycle.
Buses move faster and are no longer the last resort.
And the 2 mile and the 3 mile trips become more doable without the car.
And we get even more traffic off the road.
Just by us all doing that first step.
Are you with me on this?
YES! YES! YES … but … a small, very honest voice says it feels too hard.
It’s bad enough as it is getting the kids to school on time!
It’s bad enough as it is managing meltdowns when you nip to the shops!
It’s bad enough as it is chasing your tail trying to be in ten places at once!
I just don’t have time!
So how on earth can we actually all make the simple step of always walking the mile?
I’ve been talking it over loads with friends.
We all tried to be honest. And admit what was holding us back.
And then – with no judgements at all – tried to brainstorm ways round the obstacles.
And this is what we came up with.
4 super simple ways to make it easier for families to always walk the mile.
So we can all stop killing our kids.
1. Scoot, Scoot, Scoot!
OK how fast can kids go on a scooter?!
I mean, like seriously fast. Right?
So if the whole family’s got scooters, that mile and a bit is suddenly 10 minutes not 25 minutes.
And unlike bikes you can all go on the pavement.
Not a lot of cash to transform the school run for good and ditch the car, is it?
PLUS we tackle that other big killer. Obsesity!
Ours and our kids.
And we found our scooter bag made them even handier.
It lets us fold up and carry our scooter when we get to where we’re going.
So we really can scoot just about everywhere.
The biggest barrier we hit – talking about it – was school drop off and pick up.
If school only gives you a 10 minute window.
And you’ve got to get one kid to one school.
And one to another.
And get yourself to work.
It just doesn’t happen without a car.
So get together with other parents and badger your schools for a longer window.
Even 20 minutes could make the difference.
And help everyone walk – or scoot! – to school.
3. The Trolley Dolly
Food shopping was our other big, big driver for jumping in the car.
And you really can’t carry £100 worth of groceries.
Believe me! I’ve tried.
BUT granny’s old shopping trolley has had a serious makeover.
And you can even get them with insulated pockets for freezer stuff.
They are pure genius!
Perfect for any time you’ve got to schlep lots of stuff over a short distance.
Sports stuff? Kids parties? The garden centre? Your Christmas tree?
They’ve got you covered. No need to jump in the car.
4. Less Busy, Busy
The final obstacle to walking we came up with was our busy, busy lives.
We’re all trying to do everything.
And be everywhere.
Our kids just musn’t miss out.
And the only way we can get from A to B, C and D
– all at the same time
– is by car.
Unless, of course we just slow, slow down.
And don’t go. And just hang out instead.
‘Cos the other big killer on the rise is stress.
We don’t give our kids or ourselves the space to do nothing.
And we need that space.
Without it, we feed a vicious cycle of anxiety and heart disease.
Always walking the mile can keep that in check.
If we don’t ever, ever let ourselves get in the car to whizz around locally, we give ourselves permission to say no to the busy, busy hamster wheel we’ve imprisoned ourselves in.
To take back those precious moments lost in the scurry.
And actually enjoy family life.
I worry myself sick about what we’re doing to our kids.
And how WE poison them every day.
Don’t we all?
But I also believe, we ordinary parents going about our daily lives CAN make a big difference.
If we will all walk the mile, we can change this.
Will you join me? For our kids.