Transition Stroud

This is a shared history blog. Together we can write the history of our process of transition as it happens.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

World Car Free Day today!

Today Saturday, September 22nd, along with towns and cities around the world, Stroud will be marking World Car Free Day.

Photo: Carhenge in the States

The event is organized in different places in different ways, but the common goal is to arrange for the streets of a city or a smaller are to be car-free for all or part of a day, in order to give people a chance to consider how their city might look and work with far fewer cars. The event has been global since 2000, with events of some kind happening in over 1000 towns and cities in 2005.

In Stroud, the Transport Group of the Transition Town Stroud organisation plan a stall to celebrate the event in the High Street - talking to people about their experiences of using cars less or living without them, offering information on alternatives to the car, and hoping to excite people about the possibility of a genuinely Car Free Day next year in Stroud.

Car use has been increasing massively in the last few decades, and many of our streets are no longer safe places to play and meet neighbours. The recent story in the SNJ about the displaced 'rat-run' through Whiteshill is just one example. Cars have come to dominate roads all over 'Green' Stroud - and are negatively affecting our quality of life and environment. Transport accounts for around 25% of UK emissions of greenhouse gases. With over a quarter of car trips made being under 2 miles - an easy distance to walk or cycle - cutting car use is a great way to reduce climate change.

There are other reasons to cut car use too

Globally, cars use around a third of the world's oil. But experts now believe that global production will reach its maximum and then begin to fall some time between now and 2014. People already spend a huge amount of their time in cars or earning money to pay for them - and as oil becomes more scarce and increasingly expensive, we will be forced to consider more carefully what it is used for.

Furthermore, exhaust fumes don't just contain Carbon Dioxide but a cocktail of pollutants linked to bronchial and respiratory illnesses. The production of cars actually produces more pollution than they do in their lifetimes, and millions of cars are discarded every year - producing mountains of waste.

New roads cause the loss and degradation of ecosystems and biodiversity. And congestion grows, making journeys a nightmare, increasing pollution, and costing huge amounts of time that could be better spent. Finally, it is estimated that worldwide over a million people die on the roads every year, with a further 10 million injured. In the UK, the figure is around 3500 each year.

Transition Town Stroud is part of the Transition Network of towns trying to work on the issues of Climate Change and Peak Oil. The Transport Group is open to those interested in transport issues, and plans to hold events throughout the year, and work on issues such as the Interchange, and electric bike hire.

For more information look at http://www.worldcarfree.net/wcfd/
Or http://transitiontowns.org/Stroud/Transport

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Getting action on 'Peak Oil'

Monday morning this week 5 of us from the Business and Government Transition Stroud group met up in Star Anise cafe - see previous blog on this for what we are up to (blog 16th July).

Photo: Council Chamber, Ebley Mill, Stroud District Council

We spent the first bit of the meeting sharing news as we've not met since July. This included updates on Stroud District Council and other Transition Stroud sub-groups and the proposals for a tighter Transition Stroud core group to facilitate the sub-groups. We also discussed how Transition Stroud peaked in terms of energy around the Heinberg event and appears to some people to have lost some momentum - in fact a closer look shows a huge amount of activity going on from fact-finding trips by the energy and textile groups, to a couple of film nights about bicycling, a bike picnic and much more. One of the problems is that we have not been so good at sharing our successes and progress.....

One interesting bit of national news that was also shared was the previous days Independent that had an article about Lord Oxburgh, the former chairman of Shell, who has issued a stark warning that the price of oil could hit $150 per barrel, with oil production peaking within the next 20 years. He accused the industry of having its head "in the sand" about the depletion of supplies, and warned: "We may be sleepwalking into a problem which is actually going to be very serious and it may be too late to do anything about it by the time we are fully aware."

Fi, the groups' coordinator, fed back from her meeting with a Strategic Director at the District Council - it was very good to hear about his support and interest in the issue. We spent some time on exploring what our next steps should be - one possible way forward that needs exploring more is through Local Strategic Partnerships....what are those?

Well to be honest there seem to be few who fully understand the role of these bodies and certainly most seem to operate without much interaction with the public - basically Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) are non-statutory, multi-agency partnerships, which matches local authority boundaries. They "bring together at a local level the different parts of the public, private, community and voluntary sectors; allowing different initiatives and services to support one another so that they can work together more effectively."

LSPs are important as they set policy - these aren't just reports on issues but something that will lead to actions - therefore an LSP looking at Peak Oil - or aspects around that like energy security - could be a powerful way forward. Indeed that could lead to a Portland-style document - see more here - this could be a huge step forward in terms of improving local resilience, getting more groups to understand and prepare for Peak Oil and more. Potentially exciting stuff....we'll see as there is still much to do.

Meanwhile a note to say the next Transition Drinks will be Oct/Nov - we'll post date on this blog soon.