Drivers be air aware!
Photo from BBC News article on pollution on journey to work
Some of the highest pollution levels are INSIDE a vehicle. And particularly in a vehicle in slow moving traffic.
Surprised? We were. But don’t take our word for it. Go to Camden Council’s website and watch the video of an experiment by Kings College London’s air pollution unit, recording the different doses of polluting fumes and PM particulates soaked up by four people making the same journey across London, at the same time of day, by bus, in a car, by bike and on foot.
It shows that drivers are exposed to higher levels of toxic air pollution INSIDE their cars than either bus passengers, pedestrians or cyclists. This will be a particular worry for those who drive for a living, and particularly those like taxi or delivery van drivers, who’s work involves travel on congested routes. And it should also worry parents who opt for a car based school run in the belief that this protects their children from the toxic traffic fumes that pollute walk routes to school.
AND AS A PASSENGER – IF YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY TO WORK, check out the story of the BBC researcher who carried a pollution monitor on his commute, with some sobering results: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-35717927
What can be done? What can WE do?
SHORT TERM – CHANGE THE WAY WE DRIVE, by avoiding travelling by car at congested times of day, and switching to a less polluting driving style.
SHORT TERM – NO IDILING! Leaving car engines running when traffic is at a standstill, or while parked up waiting to pick up or drop off a passenger, generates A LOT of air pollution. Camden is part of a new London boroughs Vehicle Idling Project designed to cut engine idling, and support a switch to less polluting driving behaviour. To find out more see http://idlingaction.london
BOTH SORT AND LONG TERM – A MORE MAJOR SWITCH IS NEEDED – from cars, taxis and vans to other transport modes make increasing sense for travelling around a densely populated city like London, with good public transport, streetside car clubs, taxis and cabs. See section on ‘Taking Action on Pollution’ on this website for information on switching to walking, using public transport and cycling.
IF YOU HAVE TO KEEP DRIVING – switching from petrol and diesel to clean fuel vehicles becomes essential – and if the London Mayor’s plan to extend the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) out to the North and South Circular Roads is successful – will soon make very good financial sense. For the London Mayor’s pollution curbing plans see: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/environment/pollution-and-air-quality/your-views-how-can-we-clean-our-air
ELECTRIC CARS – Lobby your Councilors and London Assembly member to ask for the long promised charging points for electric cars across Camden and London-wide – with the proviso that these are connected to RENEWABLY generated electricity (otherwise Londoners will simply be shifting pollution to local communities around power stations and stoking the fires of climate change).
DEMAND GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR DIESEL SCRAPPAGE – to reverse subsidies the UK Government introduced that helped get us into the mess we’re now in – in the misplaced hope that switching to diesel would allow us to painlessly side step the problem of petrol driven vehicles driving climate change.
LOBBY YOUR LOCAL MP to demand UK Government introduce the diesel scrappage scheme needed to enable low income drivers with disabilities (who rely on car to get out and about) – and taxi drivers and local small traders for whom a vehicle is part of their livelihood, to make the switch to clean fuel vehicles within the timescale that public health demands.
FIND OUT HOW TO DEVELOP A GREENER DRIVING STYLE – see Camden Council’s website for tips on becoming a smarter, greener driver – saving 15% on fuel costs in the process. http://www.camden.gov.uk/ccm/content/environment/air-quality-and-pollution/air-quality/smarter-driver.en
FIND OUT ABOUT SWITCHING TO A LOW OR ZERO EMISSIONS VEHICLE – Check out the Ethical Consumer website for information on switching to an electric vehicle