During the month of October last year, the streets of Sandton began to operate in a very different way to what the city’s residents are usually used to. Lanes were closed off and park-and-ride facilities were set up in an effort to get people to think about travelling in a more eco-friendly way. The use of carpools, public transport and walk and cycle lanes were all made available during this month.
The “going green movement” is literally impacting on our “movement.” During this month the traffic is impacted in various ways to get people to use public transport instead of using their own vehicles.
Some of the discomfort people faced included:
- South Africa does not have adequate safe and affordable public transport.
- Most taxis in South Africa are minibus taxis which are considered by many people not to be as safe as it could be.
- The cost associated with using busses can be double that compared to using a private vehicle. This is what I am experiencing.
- I am fortunate in that I have flexible working hours, but spare a thought for people with strict office hours. They cannot easily stay out of peak traffic especially if they need to drop off children at school.
What I observed during this time, was that two colleagues started to drive to work together after they both faced increased discomfort due to EcoMobility month. If the measure of success for EcoMobility month is getting people off the road then this discomfort can be seen as a success.
Yes, of course, if public transport was safe and affordable we would have much less resistance to it in South Africa and many other developing countries, but we are not there yet. Imagine the discomfort the lighting industry faced to convert form incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs).
I can only picture the discomfort that the increased severity of climate change impacts will have on our lives. The question is: When will the discomfort be too big to ignore it and how will we change as a society?
The underlying message is that we all need to play our part in creating a cleaner and greener environment where we can live and that we might even face some discomfort to achieve this.
Dr Marco Lotz, Carbon Specialist at Nedbank