Be Prepared for Life

Activity Kit Two:
"At home in the City"

Part 4. Living on High Street


High Street is full of noise, robots and parking meters. It is a street for cars rather than people. Children don't play soccer in High Street! Cars crawl past us, pollute our air, crowd our spaces, often maim and kill people, use up a huge slice of our income yet....take us anywhere we want to go quickly.

A problem and a blessing?

Cars are here to stay as long as we can afford the price of petrol and spare parts. They have changed our world for better and for worse. Many can't imagine life without them.

One day soon, we will have to learn how to manage without them or change cars dramatically!

The world fuel reserves get smaller every day by every car that uses our roads. There are about 350 million cars operating today. Best estimates are that they will have fuel until about 2010. Soon car and fuel prices will become too expensive to afford, but until that day comes we will have to learn to live with more and more cars.

Project 12: Traffic Watch

Cars need to be used efficiently to reduce wastage of fuel and increased air pollution.

Watch your local traffic on High Street. Count the number of cars and lorries passing your position in an hour.

  • How many have only the driver inside?
  • How many are full [four persons]?
  • A small car with one person travels 9 person/kilometers on a liter of petrol
  • A small car with four persons travels 35 person/kilometers on a liter of petrol.
  • How long does the robot take to change?
  • How many drivers switch off their engines while waiting?
    It is more economical to switch off the engine if one has to wait for more than one minute.
  • How many have empty roof racks?
  • Anything that adds to the air stream drag uses up more fuel.
  • How many are driven too fast?
    Cars driven at 100 km/h produce twice as air pollution as those driven at 55 km/h.
  • Cars crawling in slow traffic give off more poisonous fumes.
  • How many have dirty exhausts?
    A poorly tuned engine is expensive to run and a source of pollution.
  • How many need a wash or obvious maintenance?
    Often the outside body care reflects the inside care of the engine. Dirty vehicles are more likely to be expensive to run and polluters.

What can your group do to help reduce air pollution?

Write up your survey findings as an information sheet on...


Ask a friendly petrol station to allow you to hand out your survey information to motorists who stop for petrol.

Start a local scout car wash and valet service at which you distribute your information sheet.


  1. The inner colour of the exhaust pipe.
    [white ash is a sign of a clean burning economical engine - black soot is the sign of an engine needing tuning]
  2. The tyres are hard enough.
    [Soft tyres waste petrol and increase pollution]


'Green motorists'...

  • Buy smaller cars
  • Keep their cars in better condition
  • Observe speed limits
  • Use cars wisely and efficiently
  • Know how much petrol they use


Today the car has made it possible for people to live so far apart that without a car it will be almost impossible to meet each other.

Roads are lethal places for people and animals.

Roads use prime space in the city and prime farmland in the countryside.

Roads are corridors where lead fumes and carbon monoxide poisons pedestrians and cyclists.

How much of your home is 'car space' [driveway and garage]?
These costs are hidden costs. We don't add them in when we buy a new car. Others pay this extra price.

Project 13: What a way to go

Sometimes we don't use our transport wisely. If we buy LOCAL products there will be fewer long distance lorries on our roads. By using buses and trains we will be encouraging cheaper fares. A fully loaded bus travels 50 person/kilometers on a litre of petrol. Buses and trains save us the higher costs of using cars and result in less pollution. For those who have to use cars the roads will be less crowded, the traffic will move faster and less petrol will be wasted - our city air will be much cleaner.

Calculate the costs of using bus and car transport to different points in the city.

Ask a bus company to sponsor a local time table that you can distribute door to door in your area.

Find out the reasons why many people do not want to use the bus and negotiate with the bus company for a better timetable, cleaner bus or better route if this is the problem.

Identify a list of products that are imported by road into your town each week. List alternative local products and encourage shoppers to buy LOCAL whenever possible.
[This encourages local employment that you may need one day.]

Encourage the use of bicycles and walking routes in your town. Campaign for bicycle lanes and clear pavements in your local press and with your civic authorities.


Caring for your street is caring for the world...
but it doesn't end there.

In our next kit
we will learn about

for a healthier life

© Copyright 1991 - 1994
Dr Frank Opie for the South African Scout Association