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Kate Willis, Active Travel Environmental Development Officer for Lochaber Environmental Group (LEG), explores transport solutions for the challenges that lie ahead.
Everything about our present day life is focussed around the car. Our towns, cities and housing suburbs are designed around cars.
But perhaps it is time for this to change as we are, after all, facing imminent climate and ecological breakdown.
Transport emissions account for a third of Scotland’s carbon output. If the government is serious about meeting its goals to reduce carbon emissions, it needs to start promoting and encouraging environmentally friendly transportation as a viable alternative to cars, especially short, single-occupant car journeys.
In the past decade, the bulk of transport spending has gone into new roads. It is time to start investing in cycle paths, bike racks and fit for purpose shelters.
With 63 per cent of residents in Fort William living within 5kms of their workplace, the current daily short car journeys could easily be done on a bike, helping to reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions.
Electric bikes are an environmentally friendly, easy and fun way to get around. E-bikes have an integrated motor to ease the burden of pedalling when you choose, with different levels of assistance making it easier to cycle uphill or into a headwind.
The assistance from the motor will help you travel further, but with less effort, than on a regular bike. In addition to helping you on your daily commute, E-bikes can open up a world of new adventures, even for those who are not 100 per cent physically fit, enabling you to reach places that would otherwise require a strenuous hike or a car ride.
You can plan longer and more ambitious rides, choosing to use your own pedal power on the easy bits if you wish, knowing you can cruise home with more support if you need it.
Lochaber Environmental Group (LEG) has a new Trek E bike, funded by the Energy Savings Trust, available for loan for a few days. If you are thinking of buying an E-bike, or would just like to try one out, you can borrow the LEG E-bike to see if how it fits into your daily routine.
If you are an individual, business, community group or third sector organisation considering buying an E-bike, funding is available through the Energy Saving Trust and Transport Scotland. Grants are also available to support the delivery of E-bike pools, public hire and loan schemes.
Contact LEG for more information or if you would like to try out an E-bike.