Cycle Industry News)
Mark Sutton21 March, 2018
The UK Government should join up cycling and walking policies with clean air plans to solve UK’s pollution crisis, says walking and cycling charity Sustrans.
The “Actively Improving Air Quality” report from a round table Sustrans held with local authorities and Chris Boardman, in his role as Greater Manchester’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, sets out ten recommendations for UK and local government, and charities working in the field, to help clean up the air.
It follows the joint parliamentary committee inquiry published last week, which calls for the UK Government to take meaningful action on air pollution amid a series of court rulings in recent years.
Experts in the field of air pollution have in the past warned that air pollution levels are “undoubtedly worse than reported in the media.”
The report concludes that cycling and walking programmes have a key role to play in reducing emissions from motor vehicles, which are responsible for the majority of air quality limit breaches in the UK, through a shift away from car journeys.
However, there are many barriers that local authorities currently face that prevent them from effectively implementing such programmes, including lack of political leadership on air quality; timing – the pressure for immediate success; funding; car dominance and lack of community engagement.
Other key report recommendations for the UK Government to overcome these barriers include:
- Lead a national campaign to increase awareness and build momentum from communities to tackle air pollution and give politicians the mandate to act.
- Prioritise direct measures to limit private vehicles as the mode of choice into city centres as a central component of Clean Air Zones, and help local authorities take action to deliver long-term continuous improvement in air quality beyond 2020.
- Provide dedicated, continuous funding for walking and cycling to enable local authorities to prepare active travel programmes that are shovel-ready to tackle air pollution.
Furthermore, local government should place health practitioners in transport and planning teams, to help integrate cycling and walking infrastructure that promotes a healthier lifestyle and better air quality.
Twenty nine local authorities in England that are breaking legal air quality limits are to produce Clean Air Plans by November 2018 with this number set to increase following successful legal action by Client Earth against the Government, whilst the devolved nations are trialling a number of different plans to improve air quality.
The Scottish Government, for instance, is proposing to introduce Low Emission Zones in four cities by 2020 and air quality management areas (AQMAs) by 2023 across the country.