We all need to travel to some extent – whether for commuting, shopping or school runs. By reviewing our travel needs and considering the options available, we can reduce our costs and environmental impact – and turn travel into something that makes us healthier and happier…
Smarter travel at work
Save yourself a journey
If you can avoid any travel during work then it’s a win for your carbon footprint and your time! Obvious though it may sound, unless you’re visiting a patient you might be able to save yourself a journey. Hold a meeting or appointment where appropriate remotely (tele-conference or video conference). Make use of the courier service if you need to get items to another site.
When travel is unavoidable
If logistically practical try walking, cycling or taking public transport instead. You could even car share with a colleague to reduce the wear and tear on each other’s cars; you can reduce your fuel costs and be sociable at the same time. It might also provide you with a navigator if you don’t know the route!
Public transport can leave you feeling more rested rather than spending hours behind the wheel, and on a train it can be possible to work while in transit, buying you some hours back in your day. It all adds up to less stress.
Most Trust’s offer a cycle scheme to help you fund a bike of your own if you’d like to take to two wheels, check out the links below to find out more. At SCFT they have a couple of electric pool bikes available for staff to try too. Several teams have invested in one to do patient visits and found it saves time sitting in traffic and helps boost wellbeing.
If it has to be the car…
If you’re due to visit a few patients you’d be surprised how many miles (and how much time) you can save by doing so in the right order. Some Trust’s provide advice to help you understand how you can do your rounds most efficiently – find out what’s on offer for you and get planning!
Also see if there are any hybrid or electric pool cars you could use instead of your own. That way you save wear and tear on your vehicle and reduce the carbon footprint (and air pollution) linked to your journey.
Drive the eco way
There are a number of ways you can use your car and be kinder to your wallet and the planet – and give yourself a calmer drive at the same time. Try some of these and go for an ‘eco-drive’.
- Drive smoothly: We’ve all seen the teenagers in hot hatchbacks who screech away from the lights only to pull up sharply at the next set. All they’ve achieved is more fuel use and slightly thinner brake pads. Be sympathetic to your car and you’ll find you fill up less often and have lower maintenance bills.
- Look ahead: Try to read the road further ahead and anticipate what you may need to do shortly. If you think someone might pull out in front, ease off the accelerator rather than braking when they actually do. And if you can see the traffic lights ahead are red, gauge your speed so you can keep driving when they change to green, rather than stopping and starting again. Braked energy is lost energy you’ll need to replace from the fuel tank.
- Change up: Modern cars are able to operate under lower engine revolutions than older cars. For diesel cars, and on a flat clear road, you should be moving to a higher gear between 1500 and 2000 revs; for petrol this is 2000 to 2500. Try to reach top gear as early as you can, you’ll use less fuel as you progress.
- Check your tyres: Your tyres are the only contact you have with the road so from a safety point of view you should check pressures and condition monthly anyway. But you can also waste fuel if the pressures aren’t correct: 25% lower pressure adds 10% resistance which you’ll need to replace by using more fuel.
- Declutter: It’s good advice to carry items such as a torch and blanket that you might need in an emergency, but how about everything else? If you go away once a year, take the roof rails and top box off the car when you don’t need them to save up to 10% on fuel for the remainder of the time. Anything heavy in the boot? Take it out!
- Turn it off: some new cars will do this automatically but if you’re stationary for a while why not turn your engine off? Level crossings, heavy congestion or even waiting for a friend – leaving your engine running is burning fuel unnecessarily.
Leaving your engine running whilst you’re stationary can burn up to half a litre of fuel an hour.
The great thing about eco-driving is that you can do it whenever you’re in the car – at work or off duty.
Here is a link to some good AA advice about eco driving.
Or watch this video with eco-driving tips by Which?
For more information on how to travel smart at your Trust check out the relevant link below.
Smarter travel at home
Choosing to hop in the car is an easy default but if you stop and consider the alternatives you might save some cash, get fitter and help the environment into the bargain.
The good news is, pretty much all the tips in the section above are also relevant to when you’re at home!
Here are some extra things for thinking about at home…
Let your feet do the walking
Walking is not only good for your fitness levels; it also provides some head-space to collect your thoughts and de-stress. It’s been proven that walking helps you think more clearly, and can even help with inspiration!
There is some great NHS advice on walking here.
The national walking charity Living Streets have some good advice to dip into too.
Designate someone else to be the driver
If you’re out socially why not car share, you can take turns being the driver to events so you can safely enjoy a glass of wine! There are national car sharing networks you can join too – one example is liftshare.
Get on your bike
Getting on your bike can be one the best forms of exercise and it gets you from A to B almost as quickly as driving in towns with heavy traffic. Plus its zero carbon!
With the increasing affordability and range of e-bikes on the market even those in hilly areas can get into cycling. The electric battery helps take the sting out of hills but you still need to pedal so get the benefit of #activetravel.
The national cycling group Love to Ride have loads of great annual incentives to get you pedaling including Cycle September when amazing prizes are up for grabs.
Sustrans also have some great offers with a national interactive map for key workers across the UK.