Switch Off & Visit the Edinburgh Fringe

It’s Fringe season in Edinburgh and we’re so excited to see the wealth of talent this year’s festival has to offer. From the UK’s top comedians to local actors and actresses, it’s difficult not to be impressed by the high standard of performers at this festival.

Just like every other Fringe-enthusiast we could spend hours gushing about all of the fantastic acts, but we’re here to address another issue, and that issue is transport; so if you’re planning to take the car to the festival, we’re talking to you.

Let’s cut to the chase, we all know that more cars on the road means greater levels air pollution which, ultimately, has a detrimental impact on our precious environment. While we could take this opportunity to go into great detail about these impacts to sway you away from taking the car, we’ve decided to give you a helping hand. We’re here to discuss the benefits of not travelling by car because, trust us, taking your car to a busy day at the Fringe is the last thing you want to be doing.

Parking

Parking in a city centre can be a nightmare at the best of times so imagine trying to find a space during the incredibly busy fringe season; it’s like mission impossible at times! In fact, between trying to source a space and making your way from that space into the hustle and bustle of the Fringe, you could end up wasting the first hour of your day. Plus if you’re making a day of it, an entire day’s parking in the city centre comes at a cost.

So, unless you enjoy trying to find a needle in a haystack or have the patience of a saint, we recommend switching off those engines. After all, who doesn’t want to spend more time exploring and less time stressing about parking.

Public Transport

Public transport is a fantastic service and we thoroughly believe not enough people make the most of it. While the obvious benefit of public transport is the reduction of cars on the road, there is a little more to it than just saving the environment.

By opting to travel on public transport you eliminate the need for a designated driver; this means you get to spend more time socialising as a group. Plus for groups of over 18’s, you can all relax and have a drink without someone sitting out (although remember to drink responsibly ladies and gentlemen).

Additionally, most transport services will drop you right in the city centre so you can arrive raring to go!

Whether you’re travelling from up North, down south or the central belt, we’re sure there’s plenty of busses and trains to cater for your journey. P.S. if you’re planning a family day out, see our previous blog for details on some of the fantastic child friendly public transport offers.

Less Restrictions

Our third and final benefit is a complete no brainer; if you don’t have the car, you limit your restrictions. You don’t have to plan your day around popular travel times, you’re not up against the parking ticket clock, you don’t need to stress about car park closing times… The list goes on!

While we too could go on in on, we believe that in limiting your restrictions through leaving the car at home, you can have a stress free, enjoyable day at one of Edinburgh’s most exciting annual events.

All in all, this Fringe season, we encourage you to switch off and make the absolute most of your day at this fantastic festival.

Schools Out For Summer!

Schools out! Which means it’s time for your kids to have fun and enjoy themselves, and we think that means you should too! Afterall, if you’re planning a family day out, why should you spend time driving to and from your destination when you could sit back, relax and save on fuel using public transport. More importantly, opting for public transport means you can save the environment while having fun!

To give you a helping hand, we’ve picked out some of the best public transport deals for you and your family to enjoy during the holidays.

Scotrail Kids Go Free

The Scotrail “Kids Go Free” is a great deal to invest in if you’re planning a family trip away in Scotland. The incredible deal allows for up to two children, aged 5-15, to travel free with each adult on off-peak services to any destination in Scotland; in other words, one adult ticket admits two children for free!

…and the benefits don’t stop there. The ticket allows for one child to gain free admittance to top attractions such as the Loch Lomond Sea Life Aquarium and the Edinburgh Dungeons.

For more information, including terms and conditions, head over to Scotrail.co.uk.

Citylink Kids Go Free On Weekends

Citylink’s fantastic Family Day Ticket allows for children up to the age of 15 to travel for free during weekends from any Citylink point within Scotland.

Citylink offer bus services to many of Scotland’s most beautiful destinations, including those which are usually harder to reach using public transport. You and your family could find yourselves taking adventures to breathtaking locations such as Skye, Oban, Mull and Loch Lomond – or visiting some of Scotland’s big cities such as Glasgow and Aberdeen.

To get more information on this fantastic deal, visit Citylink.co.uk.

Megabus £3 Fares

This summer, Megabus have added 1 million £3 fares on trips within the UK. To get your hands on this amazing deal all you need to do is ensure you book in at least 4 weeks advance before the 7th of September!

Megabus offer services to many fantastic destinations within the UK including Cardiff, Glasgow, London and Inverness; the possibilities for your summer getaway location are endless.

For terms and conditions head over to Megabus.com.

By opting to invest in one of these fantastic public transport offers, you’ll not only save yourself money, but you’ll help save the environment too! According to Tree Hugger, the environmental cost of 4 people travelling by car is 104kg of C02; this is the same emission levels as 3-8 people travelling by bus, that’s up to double the amount of people that can fit in a car! Travelling by public transport will therefore strengthen the fight against the spreading of toxic emissions which are extremely harmful to the environment.

 

5 Reasons You Should Ditch The Car This Christmas for Public Transport

5 Reasons You Should Ditch The Car This Christmas for Public Transport

The tempting comfort of your car in winter makes it understandable that you’d choose it over public transport. It’s cold, your car is right there in front of your home… but that decision is often immediately followed by regret when you hit the traffic and parking madness that ensues over the festive period. Not only that, but the extra heat you’re trying to pump through the car will increase the amount of pollution released into the air.

Still not sure you’re ready to ditch the car? This blog should help convince you!

  1. Cost to the environment

The main reason we’d love for you to get on board with public transport is to cut down on the large amount of harmful emissions produced at this time of year. We’re all guilty of the increase in the use of the car in colder weather and being tempted to idle the engine.

Most recently the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said:

“Tiny specks of soot from vehicle exhaust, brake linings and tyres, as well as nitrogen dioxide gas, damage people’s health by increasing the risk of cancer and respiratory and heart diseases.” (www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-38156778)

Every little thing you can do to help cut down on these bad habits will make a difference to the effect emissions have on the environment, as well as the health of others.

  1. Cost to you

How much petrol do you put in your car each week? And how much does this rise throughout winter when idling for longer than is absolutely necessary during the defrosting of your car… probably more than you think!

By taking public transport you can travel in comfort and warmth for the whole journey without the hassle and for less cost.

  1. Festive Traffic

Whether you’re driving back to your hometown for Christmas or to the shops to pick up presents, there is one thing you are guaranteed – hundreds of other people doing exactly the same thing at the same time. Heavy traffic can test your nerves and often won’t get you anywhere quicker.

Why put yourself through it? Hop on the bus or train to save time and avoid the stress!

  1. Festive Parking

There are often lots of festive family events on in the run up to Christmas – pantomimes, Christmas markets, visits to see Santa amongst last minute dashes to the shops! Do you find yourself piling friends and family into multiple cars and then struggle to find parking?

Forget that! Extend the fun to include the trip there. Leave the cars at home, give the designated driver a break and gather friends and family together by bus or train.

  1. Bad Weather

There’s nothing worse that battling your way through rain, sleet, snow or fog when you’re driving; especially on long journeys to see loved ones. Take a break this year and give your family and friends some peace of mind by taking public transport.

Being able to sit back and relax without the added stress of making good time or taking a wrong turn doesn’t sound too bad does it?

Emissions Case Study: Amsterdam

When we think of places that have become world leaders in lowering carbon emissions, Amsterdam is the obvious first choice for many of us.  Amsterdam is known as the bicycle capital of the world. The high prevalence of cyclists in the city has gone a long way to lowering its overall emissions. However, in February 2016, Mayor Eberhard van der Lann announced plans to make Amsterdam Europe’s first emission-free city by 2025. So, let’s look at how Holland’s largest city, a bustling tourist spot and centre of industry, hopes to become a role model for others seeking to lower their carbon footprint.

Amsterdam 1955-1975

It’s hard to imagine now that the bicycle culture of Amsterdam was once under siege but in the post-WWII era, this was certainly the case. Affordable motoring entered the Dutch market in the mid-fifties and was immediately snapped up by many of the city’s residents. However, with the increase in cars, came the development of more roads. Many areas of Amsterdam were destroyed to accommodate increasing levels of motor traffic. Road traffic fatalities hit 3,300 in 1971, of which more than 400 were children.

The increasing number of casualties and the changing landscape of the city led to protests. It is the work of these activists that Amsterdam must thank for its continued dedication to cycling as the city’s preferred mode of transport. It has also had the handy by-product of significantly reducing carbon emissions, whilst the rest of the world has steadily increased.

Amsterdam Today

Amsterdam is currently home to around 750,000, whilst attracting thousands of tourists every year. Many canals run through the city. Of all cities on water ranked in the European Green City Index, Amsterdam ranks the highest. It current ranks fifth overall, with a score of 83.03 out of 100.

Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of visiting will testify that the primary mode of transport is cycling. Cyclists are well accommodated, with numerous cycle paths weaving through the city. You’ll find very few instances of heavy traffic. Although CO2 emissions are relatively low, Amsterdam’s lawmakers are determined to bring them in line with the rest of their extremely high-scoring areas in the Green City Index. Thus, laws regarding traffic and transport are likely to be overhauled in the coming years, with the aim of reaching their target of a 34% reduction by 2020. This is far more ambitious than the EU’s overall target to decrease carbon emissions by 20% by 2020.

Amsterdam’s Carbon Neutral Future

The city’s plans to become carbon neutral will be introduced gradually over the coming years. The first change will take place in 2017 when an environmental zone will be drawn out. No vans manufactured before 2000 will be allowed inside the environmental zone. By 2018, further restrictions to the environmental zone will come into play. Tour buses produced before 2005, taxis before 2009 and scooters pre-2011, will all be prohibited from entering.

Far from simply penalising high emissions driving, those who practice ‘clean driving’ will be rewarded. These perks include subsidies for electric vehicles and a possible tax deduction for electric scooters. By 2018, the city hopes to double the number of electric charging points, with the aim of encouraging more citizens to become carbon neutral.

Amsterdam is at the forefront of the fight against high carbon emissions and a great role model for other governments looking to reduce their carbon footprint. Currently, whilst Amsterdam ranks second for transport emissions.  A high prevalence of vehicle idling, heavy traffic and the lack of more carbon neutral transport options have led to high transport emissions. In the Climate Change Scotland Act (2009), the Government set out plans which requires at least a 42% reduction in emissions by 2020. Scotland’s reduction commitments are among the strictest in place in the UK at present. 

You can help Scotland to reach this goal by becoming more conscious of your carbon footprint in your everyday life.  Don’t wait for legislators to impose emissions regulations. Get proactive now. We’ve got plenty of tips on how you can reduce your own level of C02 emissions. Check out some of our other blogs for helpful advice.

7 Benefits of Cycling Instead of Driving!

7 Benefits of Cycling Instead of DrivingImprove your health and the quality of your family’s life by cycling instead of driving – it’s actually a lot easier than you think!

Live Longer

A study conducted by Kings College London on over 2.4k identical twins showed that those who completed three 45-minute bike rides a week were on average nine years ‘biologically younger’ than those who did not. This even surpassed conditions such as smoking, BMI levels and other influences.

“Those who exercise regularly are at significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes, all types of cancer, high blood pressure and obesity,” says Dr Lynn Cherkas, who conducted the research. “The body becomes much more efficient at defending itself and regenerating new cells.”

Get there faster

We all know that driving usually feels like the easiest, most convenient option to get somewhere. However, research by Citroen shows that in the UK’s major cities, you could get to your destination in around half the time if you cycle as opposed to driving.

For instance, it may take you around 30/40 minutes to get to Edinburgh City Centre from Leith during rush hour, however when cycling, it would only take a fraction of that time with all the congestion-avoiding cycling routes! Save driving time, parking time and road rage by jumping on the bike instead of in the car.

Save the planet

Not only are bikes pollution free, they take up less city space, they are a tiny fraction of the weight of a car and are more flexible to take shorter routes.

Both Petrol and Diesel emissions contain chemicals which is known to cause Cancer and other serious illnesses and In Scotland right now, 1 in 14 people are currently receiving treatment for asthma.

Save more money

The average UK household spends around £73 per week on fuelTaking small steps towards cycling once or twice a week can reduce your fuel spend drastically.

Hop on your bike for short commutes and use the spare cash for a Friday night treat for the family!

Avoid pollution

Not only can you reduce your own emissions, you can avoid heavily polluted areas like motorways and busy expressways by cycling through quicker, less congested areas.

There are many cycle paths and trails around Glasgow and Edinburgh that can help you breathe fresh air instead of heavily polluted, emission filled air. Take a look here to find your quickest cycle route.

Improve your family’s health

All parents know that their actions directly affect the behaviour and opinions of their young children – so change the way they think about pollution.

Currently, in the UK 72,000 children are being treated for asthma as a direct result of emissions. We can help reduce this staggering statistic by simply driving a little less!

For more information on how you can help reduce emissions around your city and local schools, visit our informations page. It’s time to switch off, and breathe!

Top Tips to Stay Healthy on the School Run

1. Park it, and take the alternative!

Hoof it!

Rule number one to help reduce emissions and keep your kids healthy is to walk the distance instead of taking the car. Research carried out by Sustrans shows that by 2050 it is predicted that 70% of girls and 55% of boys will be overweight or obese, but a short walk to school each day is easy, free and could lower your child’s risk of obesity.

Plan your route together in advance, finding quieter roads wherever possible. You can also accompany your child for a few days and as they gain confidence, gradually reduce how far you go – this teaches kids the value of exercise and important road safety tips!

On your bike!

As children get a little older, and are practicing for their cycling proficiency tests in school, it’s important to get them used to road safety while on their bikes. This isn’t only good for experience near roads, it also reduces dangerous emissions from cars. With Over 72,000 children being treated for asthma in direct relation to vehicle emissions, don’t underestimate the benefits of cycling to school!

In 2010, Sustrans released a report which stated nearly half of children surveyed wanted to cycle to school, but only 4% were allowed to – this mainly came down to parent’s road safety concerns. Here are some tips to help satisfy parent’s concerns while cycling to school:

  • Practice pre-planned journeys during quieter times like weekends or evenings.
  • Make sure your child is aware of cycling safety rules, especially when passing busier junctions or roads.
  • Talk to other parents to organise a walking or cycling group so children can accompany each other on the school run.

2. Carpool school run

If you live in a catchment area too far away to walk in which there are are several families from your child’s school, organise a carpool. Not only does this teach younger children important social skills and builds confidence, it can reduce the harmful emissions from 3 cars, to 1 car. Talk to your school about pulling together groups of parents in the same area to organise school runs.

10 times more people die in the UK because of illnesses related to vehicle pollution, than are killed by road traffic accidents each year. Tackle both of these issues while protecting your child’s health by giving some little ones a lift to school!

3. Talk to Switch Off and Breathe

Does your school have a problem with idling cars and buses? If so please report it to us. We can raise awareness in many ways, such as the placement of anti-idling signage.

We also provide a range of services to discourage idling around schools and encourage parents, and schools, who believe they have a problem with car pollution to get in contact with us:

  • We can provide a service to put up ‘Switch Off’ signs where needed.
  • We can provide leaflets advising people of the reasons why they should be switching off their engines.
  • We can provide free stationary on request to raise awareness.
  • We can attend information evenings or functions to teach children, teachers and parents the importance of reducing emissions around schools.

A child’s lungs are constantly developing and working much faster than an adult’s, therefore they are more susceptible to the effects of air pollution. You would not subject a child to cigarette smoke, yet vehicle emissions are just as dangerous and most drivers will park with their engines running outside of schools. It is harmful. Switch off your engine and let the children breathe.

Reducing emissions, and improving the health of children across Scotland is our number one priority, but we can’t accomplish this without the help of parents and teachers. If you would like more information on how you can help, get in touch with Switch Off and Breathe today.

6 Ways To Save The Planet On Your Summer Road Trip

6 Ways To Save The Planet On Your Summer Road Trip

With the grace of scorching weather covering Scotland this summer, many of us will be seasonally inclined to jump in the car, toss the picnic (and maybe the kids) in the back and take off for the weekend.

The good weather can make us forget most of our problems, however there is one that can’t be forgotten: the colossal effect some driving styles can have on the earth and its population.

This blog post will take you through the top 6 ways to help reduce emissions, your carbon footprint and the lives lost to air pollution. Take note, you can help save lives this summer!

 

1 – Switch Off and Breathe

Not only could you save money by not vehicle idling, you could save lives. Studies show that in 2005 air pollution contributed to 650 deaths per million people in the UK.

This is possibly the number one tip for those looking to reduce their emissions this summer. When cruising the countryside and stopping to grab a quick 99p cone, switch off your car instead of leaving it running – the effect you have could be tremendous.

 

2 – Take the Road Less Travelled

Both petrol and diesel emissions contain chemicals which are known to cause cancer and other serious illnesses – so cut it out!

This summer, instead of running the engine, take the road less travelled and bring the bikes out of retirement. Cycling to work or getting the train or bus cuts down on major emissions caused by traffic congestion – one sure way to help your environment.

 

road-trip-300x300 (1)3 – Let the Wind Blow Through Your Hair

Your car’s air conditioning could be blasting more than just cold air. A/C contributes to your car’s overall emission footprint, sending harmful fumes into the air around you and increasing fuel consumption significantly.

Help both your pocket and the planet by winding down the windows, and letting the clean wind blow through your hair.

 

4 – Tighten the Belt

Weighing down your car can significantly increase your fuel consumption and result in a major increase in air pollution.

Just an FYI, The World Health Organisation estimates that 7 million people died worldwide due to exposure to air pollution during 2012 – so do your bit and streamline your packing!

 

5 – The Buddy System

The buddy system: a universal path to efficiency! The same goes for car-sharing. If you are able to give co-workers a lift to work, or jump in someone else’s car, it’s a massive saver for the environment. Double the cars = double the journeys = double the pollution!

Embrace the buddy system to help your environment and save lives!

 

6 – Put the brakes on

Now, we’re not asking you to go full ‘Driving Miss Daisy’, you just need to drive the speed limit in order to reduce your car’s emissions.

Air Pollution is responsible for the loss of 6 months of life expectancy – is speeding now worth the loss of 6 months in the future? We don’t think so! So, observe the speed limit and help lengthen the lives of those around you.

Air Pollution affects us all, there’s no question about it. So when you’re planning your summer road trip, keep these tips in mind – they could help save the life of someone you know, and millions that you don’t.