January 30

Published by Panetary Health Initiative on

Barriers to action

As we confront ‘the fierce urgency of NOW’ in the face of deteriorating planetary health, we unfortunately also face many barriers to taking the action that’s needed.

I know how bad driving is for the environment, and particularly for human health, as increasing amounts of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter pollute our air. Cycling is a much better alternative and a great way to stay fit. Nevertheless I’ve kept driving.

It’s not as though I haven’t attempted to change in the past. I bought bikes for the whole family with the intent of us all becoming cyclists, but the last time I rode mine, to test the new cycleway between Blackheath and Explorers Tree in 2015, I was so exhausted that I haven’t tried again.

There are also the many excuses … some of which are very valid. Excuses like the justifiable fear of driving on dangerous roads, the need to avoid public transport during COVID and the need for a car to lug things around. Our car has become the de facto Blackheath Community Farm ute and is full of tools and other gardening materials.

Today, however, as part of my A Year in a Day commitment to tackling barriers to action, I made up my mind to get back on my bike and ride to the Farm instead of driving.

From the minute I made the decision, I confronted more barriers.

Seven years is a long time for a bike to languish under a house. When I pulled it out the seat was mouldy, the tyres were flat and there was no basket to carry things. I then discovered my son had the bike pump in Sydney.

One by one I tackled the barriers.

We went to the service station to pump up the tyres, but discovered you can’t do that with a car tyre pump. Fortunately our local hardware shop was open, so we were able to buy a pump! Necessary if I’m going to keep doing this.

By this stage I was running out of time to open the Farm so the bike and my helmet got a cursory wipe. I threw tools, drink bottle, ice brick, ricotta, homemade cumquat marmalade and a freshly baked loaf of sourdough into two backpacks, and headed for the Farm on two wheels for the first time. I even have video proof!

Not as easy as I thought!

Well, the first part was easy. The uphill slope of Wombat St wasn’t. When I disembarked to walk up the hill, my legs had turned to jelly and I could barely stand!!!!!

Nevertheless, once at the top of the hill, I hopped back on the bike and cruised in to the Farm. Sadly, I did NOT make a glamorous entrance as I collapsed with exhaustion at the gate.

Be that as it may, after a few hours of weeding, chatting, and celebrating Blackheath Community Farm’s 5th Birthday with our Birthday Bread, my legs were ready to take me home. Surprisingly, I’m looking forward to doing it again next Sunday, but will make sure I’ve organised a better way of carrying things by then.

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