Imagining an ideal Green Hour

Green Hour can be used for a transition to a clean environment and a healthier lifestyle

By Prasad Warrier
Published: Wednesday 13 December 2017
Green Hour is for green travel, mainly walking and cycling. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Green Hour is for green travel, mainly walking and cycling. Credit: Wikimedia Commons Green Hour is for green travel, mainly walking and cycling. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Today again you will sit in a car, on a bike, or stand in a crowded bus surrounded by slow vehicles and loud honks, filling your lungs with polluted air. There are no trees or birds to look at except the crows on the garbage truck. In the discomfort of that one nagging health issue you crawl on wheels to work with no smile on your face. But, there is hope because many different problems may have just one common root cause.

For an individual, it's usually the lack of sufficient exercise and air and noise pollution that leads to health problems such as obesity, heart and breathing ailments, back pain, mental stress, anxiety and depression. Muscles can be toned in a gym, but good health and happiness comes from the environment around you. For the city, there are too many problems to be resolved. There is traffic slowing the city; there are no trees; the temperature is on rise; there is water logging when it rains; there are motor accidents every day; fuel and vehicle prices are increasing, and people in their 30s are landing up in hospital beds for heart ailments. The root cause to all these problems is probably just one—our mode of travel to work and back.

Although various government departments fight every day to resolve these problems related to health, environment and transportation, we don't see a lot changing. There must be something missing. And that something is the “window of time”. 

For a moment let's imagine an ideal Green Hour. But as everything in the universe must occur in pairs, we will keep two of them. A Green Hour is one hour between 7-8 am and again between 4-5 pm when all motor vehicles must be pulled over and turned off with certain exceptions of emergency services like the ambulance, the fire brigade or the police patrol. The Green Hour is for green travel, mainly walking, cycling and by train. The travellers would be school and college students, workers and owners of corporations, big and small businesses who have their work places or institutions within 10km from home, shoppers, leisure walkers and cyclists.

From the first day you green travel in the Green Hour, you are likely to feel positive. If you are someone who has never exercised in the past two or more years, it may take you a week until you find it easy. You will eat well and sleep well. You will feel safe walking on the street and most likely never meet with a road accident on your way to work. You will breathe fresh air while you are outside. You will lose excess weight and start seeing the health benefits in few months. Because exercise enhances your mood, you will be happier to start your work in the morning. You may even be lucky to eliminate one of your chronic health conditions. Unlike your virtual world, you will make real friends who walk and cycle with you. Offices will begin to provide better washrooms and open air environments for you to work while drying yourself. The organic perfume and aroma industry will boom. Cycle models will come with add-ons so you can carry more things and a pair of formal wear if needed. Cycle rickshaws may make a comeback. Walking facilities and pavements will improve. Electrical cycles and other electric transportations will quickly evolve and roads will change to handle these. There will be a lot of green around you all the time. In a year or two, insects will start moving back into the cities. The birds will follow them. Pollination will be faster and plants and trees will grow back again. There will be shade, the temperature will drop and the rains will come back on time and in right measure. By now, the Green Hour itself will be longer. Most people will green travel and the price of fuels and vehicles that run on them will nosedive. 

Green Hour can be used for a transition to a clean environment and a healthier lifestyle. Swachh Bharat will not be a movement any more, but a way of life. If there was a Green Hour, it would be a window of time to change our lives.

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