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CEL home > Reports > Apr 2007


Carbon Neutral Bike Ride - Cheshire to Stirling

A group of 9 cyclists set off on Sunday 15^th April from Ashton Hayes near Chester on a 300 mile, 5-day journey north to Riverside in Stirling. Their aim was to encourage local ommunities along their way to take positive steps to reduce the carbon footprint of their communities. The ride linked two communities that had already made commitments to go carbon neutral.

Going Carbon Neutral Riverside was launched in November 2006 and is a community based organisation taking steps to tackle climate change and high energy bills by lowering iverside’s ‘carbon footprint’. To do this, it is working closely with Stirling Council, Riverside Primary
School and other local organisations and is part of a wider Going Carbon Neutral movement in Stirling, Scotland and the UK. Its next step is to carry out an energy study in 2007 exploring what the options could be to improve the energy efficiency of homes in Riverside and waste less energy. With support currently sought from energy experts in Scottish Universities, they are hoping to conduct a study in 2007 which will look at all the energy options for Riverside and then discuss these with the community.

The Cheshire village of Ashton Hayes (pop. 1000 approx.) is aiming to become the first small community in England to achieve carbon neutral status. They want their children and future generations to know that they tried to do their bit to stem global warming and encourage other
communities to follow suit

The bike ride organiser, Caroline Butterfield, is the wife of the minister at Stirling Methodist Church which became an Eco Congregation last year. Her fellow cyclists came from a mixture of the central belt of Scotland and London, with backgrounds as diverse as civil engineering, social work and journalism. What brought them together was a desire to take action on climate change before it is too late and to inspire others to do the same.

Caroline Butterfield said “I campaigned 2 years ago with the MakePovertyHistory campaign, and now have realised that if I want to do anything significant to eradicate world poverty, I need to tackle climate change. And with 2 kids, I feel responsible for the world that I will leave them with, so I can’t sit back and say it’s someone else’s responsibility. So that’s why I got involved with Riverside’s Going Carbon Neutral campaign and organised this ride to link up similar communities along the way. I’m trying hard to change my own lifestyle – I now take the sleeper train to London instead of flying, cycle to the station instead of driving, have installed low energy light bulbs and fitted double glazing, and use my wood burning stove as much as
possible. But I’ve still a long way to go to reduce my carbon footprint to acceptable levels!”

The cyclists linked in with local groups in Whalley, near Clitheroe (at the Methodist church) , Kirkby Stephen (at the Methodist church), Langholm(the the Langholm Church of Scotland parish) and Biggar (linking with Carbon neutral Biggar) to hold events on the Going Carbon neutral theme along their way. With banners proclaiming the message of carbon reduction flying behind the bikes people stopped along the route to ask what it was all about and the riders were happy to explain. In Stirling they were met by Riverside Primary School’s Eco group, Prospective Labour Party MSP Sylvia Jackson and local cyclists.

They met with amazing warmth and hospitality along the length of the ride, ranging from one gentleman who ventured out to greet them on crutches on the canal near Oswaldtwistle to a taxi driver guiding them through busy Runcorn to unsolicited donations from a bakery in
Fauldhouse and provision of meals and accommodation each night. Coupled with good weather and fantastic scenery, this was both a memorable ride and an instrument for change.

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