Time to make life a little less convenient for every single one of us

The school run

The school run. - Credit: PA

I'm pretty sure every single one of us is guilty of making journeys by car, when really there was no good reason why it shouldn't have been done on foot instead.

You need something quickly from the shops, but look outside to see it pouring with rain - 'I'll just jump in the car and stay dry'.

You're going to see a friend nearby, but running a little bit late - 'I'll just jump in the car and get there on time'.

It's the school run, but you're tired and can't face trying to herd the children there by foot - 'I'll just get in the car and it will be a lot easier'.

Every single one of us has become used to making such decisions because they're more convenient and help us to cram even more into our busy everyday lives.

The problem is, as we should all know by now, that such journeys are damaging the fragile world in which we live.

It is estimated that many modern vehicles emit twice as much pollution in the first five minutes of them running.

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So every time one of us decides to take the easy option, rather than head out on foot or bike, we're directly contributing to climate change. And helping to fill our lungs with potentially damaging emissions.

Recent data from Global Action Plan, the organisers of Clean Air Day, suggests that more than half of car trips nationally are less than five miles. In urban areas, such as inner London, a third of car trips are less than two miles.

And that certainly chimes with some of the evidence I've seen in my own village, where people, who you know live nearby, jump out of the car they've driven to school, a party in the village or the local park.

Of course on occasions they may have a legitimate reason for doing so and who am I to judge them anyway? However, I can guarantee you that more often than not it's simply down to one of the reasons I've listed above.

It's because of ease and convenience - those very modern traits we've all come to love and enjoy.

Traffic chaos outside a Norfolk primary school. Public Health England has proposed that councils int

Traffic chaos outside a Norfolk primary school. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Nick Butcher

However, if just a proportion of us pledged to make one fewer car journey a week, what a massive overall difference that could make.

If just a small percentage of parents whose children live near to their school decided to bike or walk there, instead of drive, what a massive overall difference that could make.

It would bring individual health and wellbeing benefits too.

The problem is, too many people take the opposite attitude with climate change and see themselves as too insignificant in the grand scheme of things to make a difference.

But if everyone adopts that thinking, nothing will ever change.

And all of this is why I welcome Norfolk County Council's trial in which traffic is to be banned from streets neighbouring Norfolk schools.

The pilot scheme will see restrictions placed on the roads surrounding the schools preventing motorists from using them at pick-up and drop-off times.

The six schools are Nelson Infant and Wensum Junior in Norwich, Dussindale Primary, St Augustine's Catholic Primary in Costessey and Robert Kett and Browick Road primary, both in Wymondham.

It is hoped that not only will this reduce harmful emissions in the area and benefit the planet, but it will make the school run safer for the children.

I'm pretty sure this scheme will have gone down like a lead balloon to those who may be affected. But then that's the whole point of a trial - it might not work in practice.

There will, I'm sure, be many with valid reasons for travelling by car to school - and those cases will need to be considered.

It's also a shame that we have to resort to enforcement like this as a way to change people's behaviours.

But, on the flipside, unless we change habits in all areas of our lives, the cost to the planet and future generations could be massive.

We need to try new ways of living to see what works - and what doesn't.

We might just need to accept that in changing some of our habits, life may be that little bit less convenient than it currently is.