We are up and underway after a slap up breakfast and a warm send-off at ‘look mum no hands’, east london’s chic-est cycle spot.
Lunch was a Weatherspoons special. The handy menu has the number of calories marked next to the dish so the choice is easy – go big! Steak and kidney pie has a delightful 1165.
Onwards along the south bank of the Thames, Gravesend being our first afternoon pause. We met Nikki who chairs the Gravesend RLNI rundraising group and had a go on her Tombola. Our luck was in and we walked away with a pack of Polos. Minty fresh!
We later steered inland to Gillingham, travelling swiftly through the beautifully sunny countryside. A few wrong turns followed before we stopped for a well earned pint in Faversham.
A nightime search for a camping spot was perhaps not the most clever idea, though we were lucky to happen upon an idyllic setting on the edge on an orchard. Food cooked and eaten it was time for bed – our first border crossing tomorrow!
What’s five miles? About eight kilometres our metric friends would say. 8800 yards our parents would say. A perfect distance to cycle to work Sustrans would say.
So to introduce Sustrans and their “Call to Action for 2020.” For our international readers, Sustrans is a British charity for which the last 30 years have been a constant campaign to improve the walking and cycling networks throughout the UK in addition to promoting sustainable transport. Today, the Sustrans cycle-ways allow a third of a million people to enjoy a daily traffic free commute to work. Their “Call to Action for 2020” has the specific goal of doubling the number of journeys under five miles made by foot or bike. Currently, us Brits jump in the car for nearly two thirds of trips under five miles and for one in five trips under a mile – not the healthiest of statistics.
Sustrans aim to alter this ‘travel behaviour’ and are lobbying government to reward sustainability when awarding investment for new housing and travel infrastructure. Simple ideas like ensuring new housing estates are not built without schools so that families do not have to drive to educate their children; that there are doctors, shops and other vital amenities within walking or cycling distance and that walking and cycling routes are integrated into road building and improvement plans.
It is a proactive rather than reactive stance. The charity’s Bike It scheme involves the education of children in the benefits of cycling to ensure there is a generation for whom cycling becomes the obvious choice for short journeys. Grass roots stuff hoping to inspire rather than coerce tomorrow’s commuters onto two wheels.
For us at Furious Green Ideas, the work Sustrans are doing is both furious and green. Furious in the feverishly busy way, not the angry cyclist who has just seen a car stop in a cycle lane way (stay calm out there guys!). Please head to the Sustans Call to Action for 2020 page for more details (all facts and figures for this post were pinched from their More Haste Less Speed piece).
As always guys, happy and safe cycling.
Ben and Ed