On 19 June, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign joined Clean Air Cheltenham for a cycle ride through Cheltenham to highlight the importance of supporting people to cycle for short trips around town if we are to achieve clean air for everyone to breathe.
Modelling by Gloucestershire County Council suggests around 580 life years are lost every year in Cheltenham due to poor air quality. Data from Public Health England shows that the fraction of annual all-cause adult mortality that can be attributed to human made particulate air pollution is nearly 5% in Gloucestershire. Even electric cars produce significant particulate matter (eg PM 2.5) through brake dust and tyre wear on road services, and so it’s vital that we make short trips possible on foot or by cycle to improve life expectancy in Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and across Gloucestershire.
Conducted in line with government guidance on COVID, the ride was well attended, with a great mix of young, old and families, folding bikes, cargo bikes, new bikes, old bikes and borrowed bikes. It was great to have Alex Chalk, our MP for Cheltenham, and Councillor Max Wilkinson, Cheltenham Borough Council’s cabinet member for climate emergency, join us for the ride, and have people the opportunity to highlight the need for more prioritisation and investment in routes that are safe and accessible to all.
There was a friendly atmosphere with a chance to chat, and wave at those watching us cycle by. We followed a route from John Lewis in Cheltenham Town Centre along Rodney Road, through Montpellier Gardens, before looping back to join the Honeybourne Line and cycle up to Pittville Park where there was a further chance to meet outside the pump rooms.
It’s hoped that as government guidance allows, there will be more chances to ride and invite others to join us as the year progresses.