A (not so) mini experiment for when you fancy a long Sunday lunch:
Step 1) Book a table at a pub/restaurant/café in the city centre
Step 2) Turn up for lunch (by all means obeying Covid restrictions)
Step 3) Send your location to your grandma and tell her to meet you there
When your grandma arrives for lunch, take off her coat, pull out a chair, and ask her if she’s okay. Then before she gets excited about the prospect of falafel islands swirling in seas of harissa, ask her ‘How was your journey here?’. Your grandma will either reply, with glistening eyes, and recount fables of easy winding roads, drivers who give way and slow down approaching zebra crossings. Or she will ignore your question, leaving you to deduct from the austere silence, muddied shins, and crumpled penny-farthing lurching around the entrance, that her journey, much like the one of Frodo Baggins, was filled with peril and treachery.
What is the point of this experiment, I hear you ask? Besides realising that granny has more stamina than you first thought, this experiment is to test if the roads are well designed…or so believes traffic engineer Felicia. Every road she designs is considered with grandmas in mind. Felicia’s grandma, who at present lives in Sweden, cycles every day because she believes she is ‘too old to drive’. So, in order to keep her own and other grandmas safe, Felicia designs roads that are safe for cyclists and pedestrians alike.
What about car drivers? Car drivers are by no means forgotten, their safety is as important as anyone else’s on the road. It’s just that, especially in and around cities, cars are not only a problem when it comes to traffic but also pollution.
But what if we all switched to electric cars? Felicia has an answer for that too: electric cars do not solve the issue of congestion, and furthermore all car tyres create dust. This dust is made up of microplastics which we then breathe in and then gets trapped in our bodies. Forever… (well it will still be in your body long after death as plastic takes around a thousand years to decompose). This is why we should all start cycling, walking, or using public transport when we commute or travel around Bristol. Look after the planet, look after others, look after yourselves!
Any final words of wisdom from Felicia: she believes ‘all work experience is good work experience’. Over the course of her time at university, Felicia has worked as a lottery clerk, church caretaker, hotel cleaner, delivery driver, chef, and cruise ship hostess amongst many others. What surprised her was how these experiences influenced her current work when understanding how people in all of these different professions might use and move around roads. So before turning down that job cleaning toilets, remember that the experience might be useful to you one day…
So, if you are energised by the thought of cleaner air, healthier populations, and trafficless roads, think about becoming a Sustainable Traffic Engineer like Felicia. But before you do that, let grandma eat her lunch and join her for the ride home (two wheels good, four wheels bad)…