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Making the most of longer evenings

   Making the most of longer evenings

Sunny spells, daffodils and Easter eggs on shelves all point to the fact that spring is here. With this comes another change: on Sunday (March 29) we will move to British Summer Time (BST), at 1am to be precise. The clocks will move forward an hour.

In the face of all the uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought, it is a great comfort to know that some things, like the changing seasons, remain a constant.

Sadly we can’t use the longer evenings to socialise with people who are not in our households because we must heed the Prime Minister’s instruction for us to stay at home and maintain “social distancing” in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, Mr Johnson also said that we could take some exercise once a day by walking, running and cycling as long as we maintain social distance.

                                                                       On your bike

With the roads quieter and warmer weather on its way, now is a good time to get on your bike
Cycling helps keep your social distance because if you get any closer to other people than the recommended two-metre gap, there’s a significant risk of crashing, wounding your pride, injuring the other person and swapping nasty bugs.

For anyone who thinks that cycling is relatively dangerous, it is sobering to realise that we suffer far more accidents in the “safety” of our homes than we do riding bicycles. In 2018, accidental falls accounted for 5,719 deaths in England, compared with 99 cycling fatalities on the roads of Great Britain.

Because every accident is the result of a series of events (such as getting up late, rushing and not spotting a trip hazard) – it is worth working to reduce the risk of things going wrong. Plan your route, making use of daylight and traffic-free cycle routes wherever possible. Before setting off, be sure to oil your chain, check your tyres and test the brakes. Stay safe by wearing bright - ideally hi-viz - clothing and a helmet. Although cyclists are free to decide whether to wear a helmet, they should be aware that ‘head injury’ has been identified as a significant cause of death and serious injury in cycling collisions. Helmets can’t prevent accidents but they can reduce the severity of a head injury.

You can find more cycling safety advice on the RoSPA website.

With the NHS under enormous strain at present it is everyone’s responsibility to avoid A&E by preventing accidents.
                                                                     Stretch your legs

If cycling isn’t your cup of tea then walking or running are also good activities to undertake which will allow you to exercise while still meeting the government’s instructions regarding social distancing.

Make sure you are wearing appropriate footwear and clothing for walking or running. If you are planning to walk in nearby parks or open spaces it is advisable to have sturdy walking boots as these will support your feet and reduce the risk of having a fall if surfaces are slippery. To avoid injuring muscles and tendons, it is essential to warm up, stretch, put on running shoes or sports trainers before setting off on a run. RoSPA has lots of advice about staying safe while walking.

Remember that under the current guidance you should only be exercising by yourself or with other members of your household, and near to where you live. This will help prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

                                                        British Summer Time all year ‘round?

Longer, lighter evenings aren’t just better for motorists, cyclists, runners and pedestrians. They also give us an extra hour of daylight to visits friends and family, visit local tourist attractions or do a bit more gardening. Hard-pressed sectors of the UK economy, such as retail, hospitality and leisure, benefit from additional evening footfall. If we adopted BST all year ‘round, there would be an hour’s delay before the winter curfew that we all feel when dark winter nights draw in.

Every year when the clocks change in spring and the evenings get longer many ask the question: “Why can’t we get the benefits of BST all year round?”

Lighter evenings aren’t the only positive that BST brings – evidence shows that turning the clocks back in October would save lives. In 2018, according to statistics provided by the Department for Transport, pedestrian deaths as a result of road accidents rose from 40 in October to 56 in November and 70 in December. The casualty rate for all road users increased from 490 per billion vehicle miles in October, to 523 per billion vehicle miles in November. We call this the daylight savings spike.

There was a similar pattern in 2017, with pedestrian fatalities as a result of road accidents rising from 37 in September to 46 in October, 63 in November and 50 in December.
                                                                   Clock change 2021

Our lives would be simplified by not having to adjust our clocks and bodies twice a year. Our European neighbours are considering a proposal to drop the increasingly anachronistic clock-changing practice from 2021. EU member states will be able to choose whether to remain on “permanent summer” or “permanent winter” time. Countries that want to be permanently on summer time will adjust their clocks for the final time on the last Sunday in March 2021. Those that opt for permanent winter time will change their clocks for the final time on the last Sunday of October 2021.

When we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis there will be an opportunity to rethink many aspects of British public life. RoSPA believes that the Government should make efforts to save lives and provide a boost to the winter economy by adopting British Summer Time – GMT+1 – all year ‘round.

Errol Taylor
Chief Executive Officer, RoSPA
Posted: 3/27/2020 4:05:55 PM 0 comments


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