HALE W18 Masthead

Sustainable Life: Green transport

Mia Swainson

Zip, zoom, zip. Just squeezing in a trip to the shops.

Just picking the kids up from swimming lessons. Just heading to the gym after work. Let’s go! We’re all busy going somewhere. We all need to get around and sometimes it feels easier to use the car.

Our reliance on cars comes at a cost. Last year, the contribution to global warming, from Australia’s private cars was 15 Megatonnes of greenhouse gases. Cars are also responsible for large amounts of inner-city land use. Think parking lots and roads. For people who live in the city, cars are noisy and create localized air pollution.

The good news is that there’s a way around cars. Cycling and walking are good for your health, and the health of our planet. I love feeling the wind in my hair and sun on my arms as I commute to work on my bike. If we all swapped two of our weekly car trips with cycling or walking, then we could reduce our emissions and traffic congestion.

Over time, choosing alternative transport will become normal and we can halve the impact of our transport choice on the planet. Here are some ideas.


Bicycling is the most energy-efficient form of transport. On average, it uses less energy over distance than walking. It uses a renewable fuel… your energy. There are also no greenhouse emissions or petrol costs. Canberra is one of the best places in Australia to cycle, with 350 km of cycle paths. Many of these paths are off-road, so you can enjoy the scenery, get fit and get where you need to be going!

If you’re new to cycling, get up is as easy as 1, 2, 3!

Step 1: Find a bike that you can LOVE.

Step 2: Know your cycling wardrobe. Do you like to ride in lycra? For me, it’s regular clothes, just not tight-fitting suits or dresses. I also like to wear a brightly coloured cycling jacket or vest.

Step 3: Gear-up your bike. Make sure you have lights that are easy to charge, a good helmet and a lock.


Walking’s also a great way to get around. My 75-year-old neighbour walks 40 minutes into town to do her shopping. She then catches the bus home. The walk is great exercise and the bus does the heavy lifting for her shopping.


There’s lots we can do to reduce the impact of car journeys. Does your household own two cars? Sell one of them and reap the benefits of alternative forms transport, while keeping the flexibility that owning a car brings. If you’re choosing a new car, take a look at electric and hybrid options. They’re absolutely price competitive now.

Get more out of each car journey

If you drive to work, can you car pool? Maybe your office will offer preferential parking to encourage you. If you drop kids at school, can you drop them part-way and let them walk the last part of the journey. Each time you get in the car, plan to get as much done as you can. One big trip is more efficient than four separate trips.

Most people don’t live, work and play in the same house, so we all need a way to get around. By changing our habits to incorporate more cycling and walking we can kick the car habit. As each person changes their habit, a sustainable future becomes possible.


Mia Swainson

Mia Swainson is passionate about creating a more sustainable world and believes that everyone can make a difference. Trained as an environmental engineer, Mia has worked in sustainable development with the Australian Government and community sector for more than 15 years. Mia’s work has taken her around the world to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and back to Canberra. She currently tends her kitchen garden, cares for three young boys and is growing her executive coaching consultancy (miaswainson.com.au/wp). More about the Author

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