Closing roads near schools cuts NO2 levels by 23% in London

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This article was originally published by Christopher Carey on Today’s cities, the leading information platform on urban mobility and innovation, reaching an international audience of city leaders. For the latest updates, follow Cities Today on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Youtube, or subscribe to Cities Today News.

Closing roads around schools to traffic during pickup and drop-off times reduced nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) levels by up to 23%, published research by the London Mayor’s Office revealed.

Air quality sensors were installed in 18 primary schools in three London boroughs last September as part of a project funded by the FIA Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, to measure the functioning of the “School Streets” program.

Since April 2020, nearly 350 School Streets have been implemented across London with funding from Transport for London (TfL) and London Boroughs to tackle children’s exposure to air pollution and improve their health.

Speaking on the development, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “Since 2016, there has been a 97% reduction in the number of schools in areas that exceed the legal pollution limit, and I m ‘pledges to reduce this number to zero.

“School streets play an important role in allowing parents and children to walk, cycle or scooter to and from school, which has many benefits including improving air quality. It’s great to see the huge reduction in nitrogen dioxide when collected and dropped off on school streets – a time when countless children and adults would otherwise be exposed to dangerous emissions.

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Active travel

TfL also published survey results which suggest that interventions outside of schools to make walking and cycling safer are popular with parents and caregivers, and have contributed to a decrease in car use.

Thirty-five schools participated in the study, and the results showed that 81% of respondents in schools where measures had been implemented believed that a school street was suitable for their school. Almost three-quarters (73%) of parents and guardians at these schools agree that school street measures remain in place while social distancing is still needed, with 77% supporting the changes that are kept long-term subject to change. consultation.

Two-thirds of parents and guardians in schools without School Street measures support their implementation while social distancing is still needed and a majority of these parents (59%) also support such measures over the long term, subject to consultation.

Since the pandemic, parents and caregivers have reported walking more to get to school and driving less, both in schools with school streets and in those without.

Efforts to improve air quality in the UK capital have gained momentum over the past 12 months, and in December, a partnership between the Mayor’s Office, Bloomberg Philanthropies and Imperial College London the installation of 100 air quality sensors in hospitals and schools was announced as part of the Breathe London project.

Air pollution in London has an estimated economic cost of £ 3.7 billion (US $ 5.15 billion) each year, due to the health impact of pollutants like particulate matter.2.5 and no2 leading to years of lost life, hospital admissions and deaths.

Air quality financing

This week the UK government announced £ 5million in funding to help local authorities tackle poor air quality, as well as launching a competition to find the best innovations in electric vehicles from the country.

The funding is intended to help councils develop and implement measures to benefit communities and reduce the impact of air pollution on people’s health, with particularly welcome applications of projects that will tackle with fine particles (PM2.5).

In addition, the government announced that from Monday, an electric vehicle research and development competition will be open. Companies registered in the UK can apply for a share of up to £ 7million to develop in-vehicle solutions that address the challenges associated with the transition to zero emissions. Funding comes from the Office of Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV).

Pollution limits

Last week, the European Court of Justice ruled that the UK government was guilty of “systematically and consistently” breaking air pollution limits.

The EU court – which continued to oversee the case as proceedings began before Brexit – found that since 2010 the UK had failed to resolve the issue of NO₂ emissions as soon as possible deadlines.

The ruling addresses failures that have also been the subject of successful court challenges ClientEarth has filed a lawsuit against the UK government in national courts since 2011.

While the European Commission could potentially impose financial penalties if the government does not reduce levels, uncertainty remains as to whether it will have the power to do so, now that the UK is no longer part of the EU. .


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Published March 17, 2021 – 11:07 UTC


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