I was hosting a meeting recently in Nottingham, one of the subjects that got raised was the issue of clean air and some recent reports that have been published that prove that a growing number of people in the UK are dying of illnesses directly related to worsening air quality due to higher than ever levels of what is called dirty air.
The discussion at the meeting actually got quite heated as people aired their views, one observation struck me rather forcibly, and that was this that ironically people who stand at bus stops are actually breathing in more of the bad air than people who are stuck in cars. Also small children are more likely to suffer as the belching out of fumes is at a lower height. So, the worst case scenario is that toddlers who have to regularly catch buses are probably in the most dis advantaged position, quite literally.
It was also very disturbing to find out that Birmingham the car city of the UK (well it used to be) has one of the worst air quality records in Europe, let alone the UK. This is extremely worrying, and it can not be ignored. So I was interested to find out the the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has just launched a bold, and visionary, new public transport orientated strategy designed to ensure Londoners breath cleaner air while not weakening economic growth. Tough but important balances need addressing and if walking, cycling, and public transport are to continue to increase and indeed achieve its target of 80% of journeys in the capital by 2041 compared to 64% which is where they are at the moment then these measures have to be introduced.
The tricky bit however is this, how do you include vehicle restraint like road pricing . However with the loss of public subsidy from 2019 for TFL. This means that there will be real and radical challenges to be over come and if this is to succeed then these initiatives really do need strong public support. In fairness in the 17 years that TFL has been alive and kicking, car share across London has declined from 47% right down to 36%, so it proves that it can be done. So fair play the right messages are being broadcast and there is no doubt that success is dependent upon car and van restraint coupled with positive enhancements for walking, cycling, and public transport, but both must happen if the targets are to be met. Time will tell.