Improving air quality in Southbank

Improving air quality in Southbank

It has been lovely to talk to members of the Southbank Sustainability Group (SSG) and passers-by about the beauty of harvesting food from the Southbank community garden.

We have also been sharing recipes that use the garden’s produce. And, there is even a restaurant which harvests some of our herbs.

To maintain the health and beauty of our garden produce and green spaces in Southbank, we might wish to think about some of the relevant environmental factors. In this edition, let’s focus on air quality and particularly, pollution from cars in Southbank.

The ABS provides some amazing data that suggest Southbankers are quite the environmental heroes: we are 32 per cent below the Victorian and national level of car ownership and frequency of car use with 40 per cent of Southbankers not owning a car.

Only 15 per cent of us drive to work compared to around 50 per cent for all of Victoria and Australia.

The rest of us Southbankers walk, cycle or use public transport.

However, while we are making wonderful progress in this area, we seem to have dropped the ball with the increased ownership of heavyweight passenger vehicles (SUVs, four-wheel drives and dual cab utes).

There are many reasons, of course, why Southbankers might require a heavyweight passenger vehicle such as mobility issues, a person’s height, the need to pull or carry extra heavy items and more.

The statistics, however, are rather upsetting: heavyweight passenger vehicles seems to be more likely to fatally strike pedestrians than standard cars and seem more likely to kill the occupants of standard cars in a crash.

Further, it has been noted that standard cars are less likely to kill or seriously injure cyclists, pedestrians and children compared to heavyweight passenger vehicles.

Yes, SUV, four-wheel drive and dual cab ute drivers are relatively safer in their cars, however, this is at the direct expense of drivers of standard cars, so the argument of increased safety seems to be an ethically and morally thorny one.

In relation to sustainability and pollution, the damage heavyweight passenger vehicles are doing to roads is well above standard cars and consequently, more resources are needed to maintain our infrastructure.

Heavyweight passenger vehicles also use up to 20 per cent more petrol than standard cars and this has a direct impact on the air quality in our suburb, the health of our community and our green spaces including our beautiful Southbank community garden.

So, what can I do?

Hire a standard car or heavyweight passenger vehicle or use a car sharing service. Walk, jog, cycle, skateboard and use public transport, if you can.

Buy a lightweight vehicle, an electric vehicle or a hybrid, if possible. Share your car with other people so its use is maximised.

If you are interested, come to one of the upcoming gardening meet-ups – every second Saturday at 10am behind the Boyd Community Hub on March 16 and 30. •

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