Our Chief Executive, Emily Cherry, is passionate about the cause and explains what she believes is the vital link between sustainable and equitable methods of transport and achieving a peaceful society.
“September 21st is an important day in the global calendar, the International Day of Peace, founded by my friend and inspiration Jeremy Gilley of Peace One Day. It’s a simple principle he started, imagining how that we could strive to create a single day where we can live in peace, free from violence.
Since 1999, this mission has been adopted by Governments, institutions and communities across the world and more than 3 billion people take part in the day. It’s a day for the whole world to celebrate our most important mission: achieving peace for everyone sharing our planet.
But what has this got to do with cycling?
Peace and sustainability are interlinked. We can’t have one without the other. The climate emergency will lead to worsening air quality, scarcity of resources, and community fragmentation. As ever, the poorest regions will be hit the worst, and if the climate emergency continues to worsen, then we are faced with global instability and the promise of more conflicts as people, communities and even countries compete for dwindling resources.
It may only be a small thing but making the decision to cycle instead of driving is a way to be part of a positive response. The more people who choose sustainable transport rather than driving, the more significant our contribution and commitment to the fight against the climate emergency will be.
It’s worth looking closer to home as well, when we are thinking about peace. Although many people think of peace as only relevant only on a global scale, 95% of the world’s violence happens in our homes, not in conflict zones. And it’s also happening on our roads.
The media is awash with the culture war between cyclists and motorists. We see behaviour that intimidates and risks lives on the road. Instead of considerate road use, respecting and protecting each other’s choice of transport, we see fear being created.
Very real fears that prevent commuters from switching to cycling, parents from choosing walking or cycling for the school run, and children from seeing their friends independently. Real fear that risks the progress of active travel and assumptions that the only way to encourage cycling is to build segregated cycle ways. I support safe cycling infrastructure, but it shouldn’t be needed if all road users could make peace and protect each other.
It’s shocking to see AA’s survey that 61% of car drivers have not read the new Highway Code, which gives stronger protection to the most vulnerable road users, pedestrians and cyclists. If we could all make peace with each other, on the road and off, I believe we would be a much happier, and safer, society.
I will be taking part in the Ride For Peace on 21 September, which promotes sharing the road respectfully between and making safe, peaceful journeys. I will also be using my role at Bikeability to make peace with other road users. I’ll be the one smiling and making eye contact, communicating my intention is to use the road together. I encourage you to do the same.”
To find out more about the Peace One Day and the Ride For Peace, have a look at their website.