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March 2020 newsletter

Welcome to our March newsletter!

Last month, Boris Johnson announced £5 billion for buses and for cycling, and with the climate emergency ever more apparent, transport campaigning is more vital than ever. Cycling UK have done some digging and we don’t yet know how much money there will actually be for districts like ours. But we do know one thing: only places with political will, public support, and great projects ready-to-go will see the cash.

Bus news

Chigwell Parish Council has been running a couple of yellow buses in their local area. These have been running between Chigwell Station, Chigwell Row, Grange Hill and West Hatch, taking children to school and worshippers to the new Hindu temple in Chigwell village. And the service has been free of charge. The buses have been operated on behalf of the Parish Council by EFCT (Epping Forest Community Transport). Very sadly the money for this amazing service is about to run out, and steps are urgently being taken to save the Chigwell buses.

Meanwhile Epping Forest District Council has agreed to support the 87 bus route to the Shopping Park on Langston Road until a more permanent solution can be found, perhaps along similar lines to the service that’s been running in Chigwell.

Cycling news

EFTAG have had several important meetings so far in 2020.
  • George and Jack presented our cycle route proposals to Loughton Town Council and received a warm reception. They fielded questions from the councillors and explained the broad benefits that high quality cycle routes could bring for our community, including better walking conditions and accessibility.
  • Jack and Chris met two transport officials from the County Council in Chelmsford: Kris Radley (Essex Cycling Strategy Leader) and Julian Sanchez (Commissioning Delivery Manager). This meeting gave EFTAG a clearer idea of the pathway to effecting change and the avenues for lobbying which will yield the best results.
  • Simon Munk from the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) came to our January committee meeting. He has been a tremendously successful campaigner for better and safer facilities for cycling, first in Waltham Forest, and now with the LCC. He very much liked our proposed routes and general direction of travel, and advised us to focus, with our limited resources, more strategically on what precise steps we need to take to achieve our aims.

Local pollution hotspots

Our proposals for the provision of more sustainable transport options within Epping Forest would help reduce several local pollution hotspots identified by Epping Forest District Council (EFDC). These include:
  • Epping High Street
  • Bell Common, Epping
  • Hainault Road, Chigwell
  • Goldings Hill, Loughton
  • Roding Lane, Buckhurst Hill
  • High Street, Ongar
Worryingly, nitrogen dioxide levels in these areas are above the concentration deemed safe by the World Health Organisation. Nitrogen dioxide causes a range of harmful effects on the lungs including:
  • Increased inflammation of the airways
  • Worsened cough and wheezing
  • Reduced lung function
  • Increased asthma attacks
  • Cardiovascular harm
  • Greater likelihood of emergency department and hospital admissions
  • Lower birth weight in newborns
  • Increased risk of premature death
  • Reduced ability to concentrate and slowed reaction times in children
Does this mean that it is safer to be inside a vehicle when travelling through these hotspots? No, not at all. Levels of nitrogen dioxide are on average 21% higher inside a vehicle with the windows shut than on the road outside.

Our web site has more links to source information.

Strategic focus

Inspired by Simon Munk (see above), we narrowed down our core strategy:
  1. We’ll keep campaigning to improve all forms of transport. Our most active members right now know more about cycling, so we need to ask for more volunteers with a passion for buses and walking if we are to make the biggest impact. Please get in touch if you can help here!
  2. We need councillors to support our plans, especially those at county level, so we’ll work with them as much as we can.
  3. We need to communicate better with our supporters, hence this newsletter, and our new programme of monthly meetings (see below).

Monthly meetings

Our campaign meeting will now be a regular fixture, on the last Tuesday of each month, from 7:30-9:00pm, in the Plume of Feathers, Church Hill, Loughton. There’s so much to do, and too few of us, so we always welcome new faces. And buy them a drink.

Loughton Farmers Market

We were prevented by Storm Dennis from sharing our proposals with the inhabitants of Loughton at the LRA Farmers Market earlier this month. We have now booked a stall for July 12th, so do come and say hi.

And finally

With the weat(photo of woman cycling in warm coat and scarf)her due to stay cold for a while, why not check out Cycling UK’s tips for staying warm while cycling. After all, it doesn’t stop them in Copenhagen.