Car-Free Days For London Streets?

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 98 months ago
Car-Free Days For London Streets?

MarbleArch_4Dec09.jpg We know that London is potentially going to miss its EC air pollution targets and get hit with a fine, but it's quite a surprise to hear that Boris might consider banning traffic from certain areas on bad pollution days. A question from Darren Johnson about the Mayor's draft Air Quality Strategy has highlighted a 'traffic management' plan if other measures (more trees, new nitrogen oxide standards for the LEZ, encouraging people to walk and cycle) don't work. Of course, it's all still theoretical but, if the Standard's right, those fume hotspots Marble Arch and Edgware Road could be among the first to receive any temporary bans. (Though we suspect it would do Boris's rep as friend to car-drivers much damage.) (Image / Malcolm Edwards)

Last Updated 04 December 2009

Simon Birkett

Dear Rachel

The measures you highlighted in your article seem inevitable from early in 2010, without a better plan from the Mayor, if the UK's application for a time extension to comply with health based legal standards for dangerous airborne particles is rejected by the European Commission this month (as seems likely).

Berlin looked thoroughly at similar short term traffic-ban measures in 2005 but dismissed them as likely to cause chaos (and be ineffective) - not least because rubbish needs to be collected and we wouldn't want more people breathing fumes as walkers or cyclists on the most polluted days! Instead, Berliners chose to introduce an inner low emission zone as the best means of protecting public health (since it ensures fewer and less severe 'exeedances'). It costs about 5 euros once for a windscreen sticker and you get fined about 40 euros and one point on your driving licence if you drive in the 'environmental zone' when not allowed. Diesel vehicles of all sorts are a particular target.

It would be better if the Mayor tackles London's serious air quality problem, which may have caused some 6,900 premature deaths in 2005 (assuming UK ave pollution), with organised systematic measures rather than chaotic, traffic-bans. Traffic-bans will only be needed if the Mayor fails to tackle the problem in the sensible way countless other cities around Europe have done i.e. one or more inner LEZs per city.

With best wishes.

Yours sincerely

Simon Birkett
Campaign for Clean Air in London

BorisWatch

"Diesel vehicles of all sorts are a particular target."

As they should be, the rise in diesel cars (due to costing less to fuel per mile) has a direct impact on pollution because they're generally dirtier. Interesting conundrum given the rival needs of CO2 and emission cleanliness.

Simon Birkett

BorisWatch raises a good question: we need to weigh air pollution trade-offs between CO2 (for climate change) and the hazardous pollutants (particles, nitrogen dioxide etc). CleanAirLondon has proposed 'The London Principle' to do just that: we should accept a 'cost' of 1% for a 10% 'benefit' (and it applies both ways ie AQ vs CC or vice versa). With diesel producing perhaps 4% less CO2 than petrol but well over 40% more particles and oxides of nitrogen, we should 'discourage' diesel use in our most polluted cities but 'encourage' its use in the countryside where there is no air quality problem.

Simon Birkett
Campaign for Clean Air in London

BorisWatch

"we should 'discourage' diesel use in our most polluted cities but 'encourage' its use in the countryside where there is no air quality problem."

Sounds about right - I don't get why Certain Parties prefer diesel buses to electric trams on high-usage routes, but there you go.

8000 buses under public contract, however, are rather easier to run cleanly than millions of private cars, reflected in the pollution maps showing that the worst areas are highly-trafficked main trunk roads rather than bus routes.

mememine

London has not had smog warning day in over FIVE YEARS.

Note: "Alerts" are not measurements of smog; they
are only harmless predictions of a possible smog warning being issued within
the next 36 hours. -MEO

London has not had smog warning day in over FIVE YEARS.

Note: "Alerts" are not measurements of smog; they
are only harmless predictions of a possible smog warning being issued within
the next 36 hours. -MEO