Can you give up your car when it rains?

This blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. Reasons to splash in those puddles and get singing in the rain rather than take the car which can, for some, cause sudden death.  For more info about parenting see my book Homemade Kids, or for my website click here 

I’ve waited until a real rainy spell to write this. That’s because when it’s raining it is SO tempting to jump in the car – rather than kit yourself out in brolly, wellies and that unglam raincoat. Obviously this post is particulary geared towards those people who live in towns and cities (ie, most of us)

The reason I insist my children walk to school is all about pollution.

Turns out that UK transport emissions cause 7,500 early deaths each year, see research here. I am horrified by this, but then thought well there are 60 million of us, so what does this figure really mean? But this fabulous mortality diagram from the Guardian is sure to get you thinking, see here.

That figure of 7,500 early deaths is like everyone in a medium sized primary school (of 300 children) dying, plus all the students in another 24 schools.

At what point did the UK get so big and uncaring that deaths equivalent to 25 primary schools stopped being newsworthy?

The Asthma Society claims:

  • There were 1,131 deaths from asthma in the UK in 2009 (12 were children aged 14 years or under).
  • On average, 3 people per day die from asthma.

The UK mortality figures used by the Guardian in its diagram show that 7,500 is a huge figure. After all in one year:

  • Transport accidents claim 2,284
  • Drug use deaths totalled 1,340
  • Swine flu was 149

To help make comparisons you need to know (all figures approx) that every day 1,700 people die in the UK .  So each year that’s 643,000 deaths, making it easy to lose – or forget about – those 7,500 early deaths from air pollution. Is that why #doubledip and #recession are the words trending on twitter, not #airpollution or #airquality?

It seems that we can chatter with no problems about being unable to afford petrol, car repairs or a holiday that starts at the airport. But in so doing ignore taking action – or sounding off about – on an issue we all could do something about.

A week before Lola was born my book on cars The Estate We’re In: who’s driving car culture (Indigo) came out. I know you can’t criticise car drivers (I am one after all, and have even taught three or four people how to drive). But I wish you could get put on the naughty step for driving.

Over to you with a FREE gift
If you’d like a FREE book: Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island about travelling around the UK on public transport in the 1980s – a wittily written nostalgic journey which takes in bad food, timetables and clone towns by the very funny American then answer this question and send me your email. The book is provided FREE by the lovely folk from World Book Night.

Q: Do you worry about air pollution or not?

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4 Comments on “Can you give up your car when it rains?”

  1. Nicky Says:

    The kids moaned about it – but we still walked to school. the wind and rain is a killer combination tho – especially for a secondary school boy who refuses to wear his wellies to walk to school!

  2. nicola baird Says:

    Great news Nicky – you’re the lucky winner. You’ve just sent me your email address via facebook so soon I will pop Bill Bryson’s NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND (an American travels around the UK on public transport, mostly in 1993) into the post for you. Enjoy reading it up in the West Midlands, and let me know if it inspires you. Nicola


  3. […] school. As I try to answer this puzzler, I realize she’s given me a fascinating blog topic about fitness and asthma. I used to think childcare distracted me from blogging, but now I find my kids a rich source of […]


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