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Sustainable Living

Summer in the City- Use Your Bicycle!

Do you love summer? I know many people who actually don’t like the summer, because it is too hot, or they have pollen allergies what I think is really very uncomfortable, to say at least.

Summer here in the Netherlands is beautiful but short, so I try to enjoy it very much. If you live in the city, you experience summer differently as someone who lives in the countryside, or close to the sea. Summer in the city, you might get your bicycle out, but maybe you experience problems with breathing?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Here in the Netherlands, people cycle very much. The country is mostly flat, not in the south or east, where we have hilly areas. It is raining quite a lot, and that is not comfortable being on the bicycle, but the Dutch people don’t really care about the rain. If we cared, we wouldn’t go cycling because we have many rainy days throughout the year. 🙂 Summer is one of the most beautiful seasons, and people do spend the most time outdoors.

In southern countries like Italy and Spain, spending the evenings outside is completely normal for these countries, and I love that. In the northern countries, life is different due to the cooler temperatures in the evening. There are not many days to spend the evening outside, so we have to use the summer well.

Summertime, time for socializing, showing up in the most beautiful dresses, feeling joyful, energized, and beautiful. The sun is doing a miracle to people, and watching life around us, beautiful flowers, the business of the insects and birds, is so beautiful to observe. So, let’s get out! Summertime in the city! 🙂

Summer in the city- Use your bicycle
Photo by Maria Orlova from Pexels

Summertime in the City

Living in the city is a huge difference from living in the countryside. Life is busier; there is so much to do that we can stay busy all day and night. Well, that is also a huge danger to us. Most people don’t even recognize the silent dangers of living in a city.

When you are young and healthy, you are not aware of the smog around you, permanent noise, and light. Traffic jam is a huge problem in big cities. Regarding the fumes coming from the cars, many people are getting ill, slowly, without noticing that they inhale the toxins permanently from the traffic.

I remember when traffic wasn’t such a disaster, and many people were still taking the bus, walking, or cycling. People had more time, and life was still less busy in the city. But nowadays people don’t have time at all, and if they want to relax, they meet friends and visit a bar or a restaurant, sitting together, and having dinner or some drinks together.

a cafe outside next to the street
Photo by Volkan Vardar from Pexels

The Netherlands has terrible air quality, even in the east. We have a huge conservatory park, The Veluwse Nationalpark, a beautiful forest where many tourists are cycling or walking to spend some recreational time.

The traffic jam in the morning and evening, well, nowadays nearly the whole day, create a silent killer where people are not aware. When I moved to the Netherlands, the air yoked my respiratory tract. I wasn’t used to this toxic air. The Netherlands is very bad at following the restrictions of the EU in creating a plan to cut down the emissions.

They have failed!

Luckily, enough organizations fight for a better environment for insects, national birds, and cleaner air and soil. I joined some of the organizations and thought they do a great job. I also have given a signal to our community council that I would like to get involved in the questions around the environmental politics of our city because I think we need urgent change in our current way.

However, in summer, in the big cities, the sun can’t even penetrate the thick smog surrounding and covering the cities like a bell.

Years ago in Germany, we always received an alarm in summer, when smog and sun came together and created a toxic air layer, called ozone which is toxic for the respiratory system. Many people couldn’t breathe well, felt stuffy and sick. I believe noticing the increased traffic it has become worse than any better in the last years.

a man cycling near car an d a tram
Photo by Vlad Fonsark from Pexels

If you would like to get your bicycle out and cycle through your city, I tell you, you are becoming intoxicated inhaling the fumes. This is certainly no quality of life.

I have been to Nancy and Lyon in the summer, and these two cities in France are so beautiful. The way French people are experiencing the summer is lovely. Being outdoors, socializing, having fun is something we all love, and I think that the summertime is ideal for having fun with others while the sun is shining during the day and temperatures are still warm at night. I always enjoyed the warm evenings. But it is not healthy and lovely to sit in a cafe or restaurant while cars are passing you, blowing their fumes into your face and meal.

Well, actually, that is nowadays the case in most cities.

Traffic Jam and Air quality

The traffic on this planet has increased enormously in the last decades. If you see what is going on on our streets, it is not surprising how much toxins are released by the cars. I hate to be stuck in a traffic jam and have to inhale the toxic fumes.

traffic in a city
Photo by Aleksejs Bergmanis from Pexels

The city is for sure not the best place to be in the summer. There are cities like Kopenhagen and Stockholm, where cars are not allowed to drive in the city center, and I think it should be the norm worldwide. If people would do more walking, using electrical trams or cycle, it would definitely relieve the city. The air quality would become better and life in summer, but also throughout the year would improve very much. People could sit without having any problems with breathing, in cafes and restaurants, enjoying their meals.

The air quality will improve when people start to live healthily and sustainably. People could use a step board or bicycle or other sustainable transportation methods, so we don’t need to worry about our health.

However, definitely, we need to reduce the use of cars and planes. There are other ways of transportation to come to your work or doing the groceries. Summertime is the time to be outdoors and enjoy your surroundings; it is certainly better to walk or cycle than sit in a car, improving our health and environment.

Project Green City

Most big cities have some huge and smaller parks where people can do all kinds of recreational activities. I think this is great, and if these parks have lots of wildflower fields, we will help the insects increase what also supports our birds and small mammals.

However, I really think instead of bringing parks to the cities, let’s bring cities to the parks. Why not creating a green surrounding like a huge recreational area where the city is embedded, without any car allowed in this area? Quality life means quality air, water, and soil.

tables and chairs near cars on the street
Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels

I saw a great project on Twitter where they plan to create a huge recreational area in Paris with lots of trees and flowers. It looked so fantastic that I was amazed, and I certainly hope they will succeed. Paris is a great city to plan such a project, but we could do it everywhere.

When I see how Singapore is changing its environment in a green area, I think the architects are fabulous and certainly need a price. There are already so many cities that try to make their place more green, including rooftop gardens and many flowers, that we can’t stop now. Still, we need to keep changing our cities into sustainable areas where we spend our summers breathing quality air and drinking quality water. Humans and animals will live together.

It might be easier to integrate and grow plants and flowers in tropical areas globally due to the heat and humidity. Still, I believe it is possible everywhere if we stop polluting our “nest,” rethink our activities and return to sustainability.

I am sure that people will feel better and healthier in a healthy environment. Green and blue are the colors that give us relaxation. Let us place houses into a natural environment without damaging nature, but integrating, not destroying forests and nature, but protecting them.

Let the summer come, and let’s go outside, breathing healthy, clean air, sitting in the city center, and enjoying life. Every country should embrace Green City’s project and change the image from being polluted to clean and sustainable. Enjoying the summertime in a natural green city with many trees and flowers, without any traffic jams, without any car, should be our goal.

Romantic Summer

Summer is a beautiful time of the year where we enjoy the healthy warmth of the sun, the liveliness of nature with all the scents and sounds. Life is so beautiful, and people are socializing, having fun. For me, summer and the sea belong together because I am born and raised close to the sea. Sitting at the beach, pressing my feet into the sand, walking at the beach barefoot, swimming in the sea, that all is summer for me.

But I haven’t had this for a long time.

a woman reading a book lying at the beach
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

I believe that the air is the cleanest close to the sea because we have the wind. Beach, sand, and sun that is summer for me! I love the forest and the mountains or the lakes, but the sea is energizing and relaxing all together. You will ground when you walk barefoot along the beach or swim in the water.

You are not aware of pollution, because the wind blows the air clean. The Beautiful salty air, the sound of the waves and seagulls is so calming for me. When I traveled a lot in my younger times, I mostly have chosen to travel to places close to the sea, like the Tropical Sea, the Atlantique, the Mediterranean Sea, the Tasman Sea, the Pacific, the Baltic Sea. I always needed to sense and listen to the sea. That is summer for me, romantic, magical summer.

I believe the healthiest air is where the sea is, despite the forest, which is also a good place to be, but the sea is purifying us. Of course, if we go up the mountains, the air is beautiful and clean, and nature is also beautiful in the mountains, as it is in the forest, but I can’t help it, I prefer the sea.

To spend healthy summers in the city with clean air, we need to live sustainably and change our cities into parks where we have quality air and summers where we can renew our energy and our health.

Final Thought

The summer in the city is very often unhealthy, full of toxins, making people chronically ill. We can change it by changing our environment into a recreational place where people can recharge and renew their energy. Let the car park outside the city and take a bicycle to the city center where we can walk along the river, lake, or beach, and truly renew our health; socializing, relaxing, enjoying ourselves, having fun, so we are recharged for the winter. Living healthy is living in a healthy, sustainable city, green and lively, full of pure, clean air.

What do you think? Did you hear about the project in Paris? Would you love it in your city as well, or do you think different? I would love to hear what you think! Please comment in the comment section. 🙂

All the Best,

Sylvie

6 Comments

  • Yvonne

    I love to sit outside coffee shops during summertime, but I’m not too fond of it when cars are parked right outside and start running. Nothing worse than getting a mouthful of fumes while drinking and eating..

    Cars should not be allowed in the city, especially where there are lots of high raised buildings. Cars trap the fumes within the city, and it’s worse with buses and delivery trucks.

    • Sylvie

      I can’t breathe then, it is so unhealthy, especially in summer. To sit outside for a coffee is so great but having cars driving around need to be stopped.:)

  • Lemuel Sacop

    Hello Sylvia,

    What a great read! I love the countrysides and everything about nature. But I live in a city here in the capital of the Philippines (but near the countrysides). My brother actually has 2 bikes that I borrow his reserve sometimes and we go biking on weekends. I agree it’s somewhat hard to breathe in our city, but there is one park nearby full of trees and plants (part of a mall). That is where we go biking if we don’t have time to go to the nearest countryside.

    At home, we have our terrace full of plants as well as indoors and I have there my old worn out and trusty thread mill. I agree, that in order to live healthily, you must also live in a healthy place. Where the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat, are not contaminated with man’s tampering with nature.

    • Sylvie

      Yes, that is very right, Lemuel! Manila also has difficult air due to industry and tropical hot and humid air; people will have difficulties breathing. We can only care for ourselves, and I love the sea where the air usually is better due to the wind, at least if you live on an island, like Ireland where the sea surrounds you. I believe that in Manila, people have problems sleeping during the night. I love the tropical countries, the richness of plants, and the way the flower is impressive. You are doing it very well, having plants inside and outside to filter and clean the air. I believe that the park in Manila is enormous. 🙂

  • Hannie

    Great article, Sylvia. I belong to those people that think summer is too hot. Even though I can stand the heat over here in Spain better than whenever there was a heatwave in the Netherlands back then. Over there it’s a hot and headache-causing humid warmth, over here it’s dry. But no, I don’t like the heat that much.

    I haven’t heard of the Parisian plans. Do they have a project name? I do know lots of other plans like that. Mostly old roads and railroads, that were turned into recreational areas. For example in Berlin and New York. They made beautiful areas so I expect Paris to get the same.

    Do you know Villette Park in Paris? If not, that is definitely an area you need to visit. I am sure you will love it as much as I do. It’s a huge park with red so-called Follies in it. Little buildings that sometimes have no other purpose than just being there.

    They reminded me of the buildings in Insel Hombroich, although those are all white. Another recommendation 🙂

    Thanks for the inspiration and take care, Sylvia.

    • Sylvie

      You are so right, Hannie! I am feeling between! You know, summers need to be hot, but very soon we have high temperatures, I feel uncomfortable. Lol! The Netherlands is very uncomfortable with its weather. Last year, we went from a cool, rainy summer directly into winter. I don’t like that! I need warm temperatures in summer to recharge for winter.
      The Parisian’s plans I have seen on Twitter. Is it not great to have these plans? All cities should be improved sustainably. Did you watch the video? It is excellent, but still not enough to save the planet. I don’t know the park you are describing in Paris. Indeed, I would love to see it. Thank you for your recommendation; I will have a look into the Insel Hombroich. Even I am German; I don’t know, Have never visited the island. Thank you so much, Hannie! 🙂

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