Cargo bikes raced ahead of their carbon-belching rivals, pine martens returned to southern England, and Wales pledged to build 20,000 green social homes, plus more stories of progress
A report published on Thursday confirmed something that many people already knew — cargo bikes are the fastest and greenest way to transport goods across a busy city.
Not just a bit quicker, either: researchers found that electric cargo bikes delivered goods about 60 per cent faster than vans in central London, while producing 90 per cent fewer emissions. Little wonder they are being touted as ‘the future of urban transport’.
The study was conducted by the University of Westminster’s Active Travel Academy, which analysed GPS data from the cargo bike delivery company Pedal Me. The startup is one of a number of pedal-powered firms shaking up deliveries in London.
“Recent estimates from Europe suggest that up to 51 per cent of all freight journeys in cities could be replaced by cargo bike,” said Ersilia Verlinghieri, lead author of the report.
“If even just a portion of this shift were to happen in London, it would be accompanied by not only dramatic reduction of CO2 emissions, but also contribute to a considerable mitigation of risks from air pollution and road traffic collisions whilst ensuring an efficient, fast and reliable urban freight system.”
Image: Pedal Me
Conservationists confirmed this week that pine martens have returned to southern England. The animals were once widespread in the UK, but their numbers plummeted in the 20th century due to habitat loss and hunting. Northern England, Scotland and Wales were believed to be their last strongholds.
Over the years, reported pine marten sightings in the New Forest offered hope that the species had clung on further south. This week ecologists confirmed that it had, and that there was now a viable population there.
Leanne Sargeant, senior ecologist at Forestry England, said: “It is not often that we are able to talk about wildlife returning to landscapes and re-establishing their populations, so this is a really fascinating development.”
Image: Joshua Copping
Repairing household goods that get thrown away when they breakdown — from washing machines to mobile phones — could create tens of thousands of jobs in the UK, research has revealed.
A report by the Green Alliance thinktank estimated that 450,000 jobs could be created in the next 15 years were the UK to prioritise the repair and reuse of manufactured goods.
Positive News has long reported on the circular economy, which, as well as creating jobs, would reduce waste and save emissions from the manufacturing sector.
The Green Alliance called on the UK government to introduce legislation to accelerate the shift towards a circular economy, such as the right to repair bill, which came into effect in the UK in July.
Image: Clint Bustrillos
On Wednesday it was announced that 20,000 low-carbon social homes are to be built in Wales. The government there said the houses would be available for rent, and would produce more energy than they use.
The proposals were announced by climate change minister Julie James, during a visit to one of Wales’ first ‘positive energy’ social housing schemes.
Residents moved into the Bridgend development in January, and have since been receiving negative energy bills.
Allyn King, who lives in one of the properties with his wife Anne-Marie, and three children, said: “The extra money we are saving in our household has allowed us to spend more on healthy, fresh food and save for our children’s school uniforms and special occasions.”
Image: Benjamin Jopen
For over a century, the UK’s native red squirrel has been competing for territory with its grey rival – and not coming out too well. The species clings on in Scotland, having been mostly pushed out of England and Wales.
Offering rare good news for the native red was a study published this week. It found that even if non-native greys run rampant across Scotland, as many fear they will, reds will evade extinction.
Researchers identified 20 safe havens that they believe will act as fortresses for the reds. Those safe havens are conifer forests managed for timber production, which suit red squirrels but are inhospitable to greys.
The findings have implications for conservation: plans are afoot to create red squirrel strongholds by removing broadleaf trees from some forests and replacing them with conifers. In light of the research, this may not be necessary.
Image: Kulli Kittus
A charity that challenges people to eliminate meat from their diets during May announced this week that a record number of people took part in its latest campaign.
No Meat May said that 130,110 people made the pledge this year – almost double the number that took part in 2020. The charity added that 93 per cent of those who signed up have reportedly continued to reduce their meat and dairy intake.
Research suggests that cutting back on meat and dairy is the single biggest thing people can do to reduce their impact on Earth.
Image: Edgar Castrejon
England’s most persecuted bird of prey is showing further signs of a recovery. The hen harrier had a record-breaking breeding season in 2020 – and looks set to top that this year.
The Moorland Association said that at least 77 chicks have fledged this summer; 17 more than last year. The figures have not been confirmed by Natural England.
The hen harrier is a source of controversy in England, where it is subject to a contested conservation programme.
Image: Andreas Trepte/Creative Commons
They have a hard-earned reputation for being toilsome, transient places, but research suggests that big cities can protect us from depression.
A study of depression rates in US urban areas found that people living in big cities were less prone to depression than those living in smaller, more sparsely populated places.
Researchers suggested that the the social interactions that come with big city living – even relatively superficial ones – help people avoid depression.
Read the full report here.
Image: Dan Freeman
The Highway Code in Great Britain is to be overhauled to boost active travel, it was announced.
The changes will put pedestrians at the top of a new road user hierarchy, giving them priority over cars at junctions and crossings. Cyclists will also benefit from the overhaul.
The revised code will come into effect in the autumn, pending parliamentary approval. The Department of Transport said that the changes, along with an extra £338m to boost active travel, will help to sustain the increase in walking and cycling seen during the pandemic.
Read the full story here.
Image: Volkan Olmez
Main image: Pedal Me
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