The commute is literally killing us, and cooking the Planet

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

commute1A mounting body of evidence shows that those who commute are more unhealthy, more stressed and die sooner than those who live closer to their jobs. The commute is literally killing us, and cooking the Planet.

It also, I am sure, depends on how you commute to your job and most, alas, do it by car (and that on their own) which means lots of pollution but also zero exercise, if you do not count pushing pedals and turning steering wheel.

Instead look at other ways to commute or, ideally, see as to whether your job and your home can get closer together. It is simply not sustainable to live in the deep countryside and work in the city, such as London, some 200 or so miles away, turning villages into expensive dormitories rather than living communities.

If you want to live in the country then work there too and support the local economy and community. But the majority of those commuters, where often both partners work in the city, don't see this countryside, where they have chosen to live, and by that action have priced out local that want to live and work there from having a home, except for weekends when they then are far too busy entertaining and doing things to their home than mingling with the locals.

We just cannot continue this way. It is literally killing us and the Planet and, at the same time, is turning our towns and cities into just commercial centers with no heart and the villages of our countryside into expensive dormitories for the (rich) commuters forcing out locals who want to live and work there.

In other European countries this phenomenon does not seem to exist, or at least nowhere to the same extent as in Britain. In Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and other places towns and cities are not just commercial centers; they are also places where people actually live, and that even in very center of town and city. London, on the other hand, is almost devoid of life in the evening and I am not referring here to people wandering about and going to clubs, the theaters and such but people living there. And, while there are people living even in the centers of American towns and cities the daily commute over tens to hundreds of miles also takes place despite.

The British government is now talking, once again, of plonking Garden Cities and such into the countryside, the residents of which, no doubt, would still be commuting and, as the infrastructure of railroad stations and such does not, for those places, exist as yet, this would and will mean a commute, predominately, by car. We are being brainwashed into the notion of working in the cities and living in the countryside to the detriment of both the cities and the countryside.

Instead of building new towns, even if they are called Garden Cities, willynilly – almost – in the countryside where there are no jobs, where there is no work for the residents and who, therefore, will be commuters, which is totally insane, we need to bring the people back into towns and cities, at least those that work there. That means that towns and cities must be made livable (again) and have all the necessary facilities created for the people, ideally by the people.

Plonking even eco-towns into the countryside, regardless of how green and sustainable the homes, and the towns even, may be does nothing for the environment. The opposite rather.

What is required is a greening of our existing towns and cities and bringing the commuter back from the dormitories near to the places where they work and that means into the towns and cities, even the very centers of them.

Then again the eco-town idea was never intended to do anything else but give developers and house building companies in Britain a nice little earner. Retrofitting and greening our existing homes and buildings in cities, towns and villages would not have done that and thus the idea of the eco-towns was floated.

But, we must retrofit our existing homes and buildings in our cities, towns and villages and bring work and workers closer together once again. This also means, as already mentioned, greening those places by providing what the people want and need. This also means that our villages, towns and cities need green spaces, community gardens where people can grow their own food, and also shops and other amenities to make people want to live in those places.

It is not rocket science but it requires the political will and allowing people to build their own communities and that even in the cities.

© 2013