Zero-carbon pleasures

James offering a free Dr Bike service at Archway’s Navigator Square.

James offering a free Dr Bike service at Archway’s Navigator Square - Credit: Nicola Baird

It’s so easy to feel despondent about how to help the planet and tackle inequality, especially after the UN secretary general’s warning that our war on nature threatens the survival of humanity.
Thankfully, sometimes practical action can help people try something new for free, simultaneously helping clean up humanity’s mistakes.
Even better, anyone can do this. So what could you do to help friends and family discover what safe roads feel like?
As I love to cycle I recently volunteered as a bike buddy for the London Cycling Campaign. My first task was to show a new cyclist how to get from Archway to her voluntary job in Angel.
By luck, when we met at Navigator Square, there was a drop-in Dr Bike outside Archway Tavern, so she was able to get her second-hand bike’s brakes tightened and the tyres pumped up – all for free – before we set off. She was amazed to find an alternative to Holloway Road via Sussex Way, then a wiggle on to Annette Road before joining the new protected cycle route along Liverpool Road.
We also saw kids kicking a football in a quiet street, heard footsteps and conversations, and admired a firey sunset. It was one short journey for me, one big travelling change for her. 
The following day, I met friends on the Parkland Walk. They said they found this green footpath – long ago the train route to Alexandra Palace – a destressing miracle during lockdown and a safe space for their son to cycle. It’s also a place to enjoy inner city nature: our chat was interrupted by gangs of parakeets rushing to their night time perch. Here’s to the sort of changes that spread zero-carbon pleasures.

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