Displaying items by tag: air quality

At MP Smarter Travel we believe in preparing the next generation to make informed decisions that protect our natural environment and minimise our current impact. To date, we have worked with schools and local councils across London engaging students through citizen science experiments, providing fun and engaging educational workshops and student-led film production.

MP Smarter Travel's Breathe Clean programme is designed to educate children and young people about air pollution, foster new sustainable travel behaviours, and identify new ways to minimise air pollution. This programme has previously been delivered in Newham, Brent and Lambeth, and most recently in Westminster.

 

Fun Fact

The Breathe Clean project has been run in four London boroughs, with workshops held 116 schools to an estimated 17,400 students. Through Breathe Clean, students have helped our consultants install 3,067 diffusion tubes across London.

school-intro-slide-300px   school-map-300px

 

How Breathe Clean Works

Prior to February 2020, we taught our Breathe Clean programmes in assemblies face-to-face, making them engaging and interactive as possible for students. When lockdown was announced in early 2020, we switched our programmes and activities to online, retaining the interactive aspects of the assembly while protecting students, staff and our team.

The programme is conducted with two assemblies in each school. The first assembly educates students about the sources and impacts of air pollution. When we hold these assemblies in person, we ask for five or six student volunteers to help our consultants install diffusion tubes across the school’s campus. These diffusion tubes measure the air quality in the school grounds, these are collected four weeks after installation for analysis.

We then return six weeks later to conduct the second assembly. Here we share the results we garnered from the diffusion tubes and what these results mean and discuss different solutions to air pollution. Students come together to discuss why they think air quality changes across the school campus and how it can be improved.

Whether in person or online, we send out activity and resource packs for students and staff on how to maintain and improve air quality in and around schools. This resource packs also relate to the school’s travel plan, and how Breathe Clean activities can contribute to the next level of TfL STARS accreditation.

Our Breathe Clean packs include:

  • a bespoke presentation
  • notes to support the presentation delivery
  • measures that a school can implement to reduce air pollution on campus

 

"The children enjoyed [the assembly] immensely and were informed and encouraged in equal measure. I overheard year 6 pupils talking about it later in the day as we crossed the playground - so it definitely made an impact! The Zoom format worked incredibly well and it was made extra special by the inclusion of our act of collective worship at the end." 

St Joseph's Roman Catholic Primary School

Contact

If you'd like MP Smarter Travel to hold Breathe Clean workshops at schools in your area, contact us today by emailing info@mpsmartertravel.co.uk or calling 0207 960 2553.

Published in Blog

 

MP Smarter Travel are pleased to announce that we will be working alongside Idling Action London to deliver school workshops and events at primary schools across 31 London boroughs.

Idling Action London is a London-wide behaviour change campaign which is helping to reduce localised air pollution caused by motorists leaving their engines running when parked. Idling Action delivers a wide range of events including educational sessions for motorists, fleet vehicle training, school workshops and working with local authorities to ensure idling regulations are enforced across London.

 

School Workshops and Events

Using a variety of interactive workshops, educational sessions and school assemblies, all designed for children from four to 11 years of age, the focus of the events will cover a range of topics including:

  • The composition of the air we breathe
  • Uncovering London’s most common pollutants and where they come from
  • How we measure the invisible threat of pollution
  • Connecting pollution exposure with health conditions
  • Encouraging students to think about their own journeys and the pollution they might encounter

 

Where possible, the workshops and events will be delivered on-site at schools.

About the Team

Oli Ivens, Head of Consulting and Project Director

Oli joined MP Smarter Travel in 2018 as a Consultant and has since worked his way to Head of Consulting. Since starting, Oli has worked with local authorities, Business Improvement Districts, schools and charities to deliver sustainable transport projects including Team London Bridge’s Bikes for Business, school travel plans and air quality monitoring.

 

Mia Wilson, Education Consultant 

Mia has over 30 years’ experience working as a school teacher, and has been an independent educational consultant for the past seven years. Over the course of her career, she has taught and advised schools on a range of aspects including student assessment and pupil tracking and has delivered anti-violence and anti-bullying workshops to primary and secondary age students. 

As part of the Idling Action project, Mia will be delivering the majority of the workshops and events. 

 

MP Smarter Travel 

Since MP Smarter Travel’s inception in 2012, our consultants have worked with schools and local authorities across London delivering sustainable transport workshops, hands up surveys, clean air initiatives and school travel plans projects through TfL STARS. To date, we’ve delivered 25 years’ worth of full school travel plan programmes since 2011-12 across 10 different London boroughs, all to improve the health and wellbeing of those who live and work in London. 

Contact us today to see how our team can help schools in your area to deliver a range of engaging and interactive workshops and sustainable transport projects by emailing info@mpsmartertravel.co.uk or calling 0207 960 2553

Published in Blog

 

Situated just 10 miles south of central London and a stone's throw to Brighton, Croydon has long been a popular area to live and work with an ever-growing population. With excellent transport links across the south of England, the borough has almost 150 schools, many of which in short distance from high traffic areas. Combined with an increasing number of motor vehicles, the risk to the air quality in and around schools is a concern.

Croydon's Air Quality Action Plan includes the action to 'reduce pollution and minimise exposure' at schools. Good quality data is essential for understanding the issue and measuring potential improvements against a baseline.

 

How we did it

From January to December 2020, MP Smarter Travel were commissioned to monitor air quality using nitrogen dioxide diffusion tube monitoring, at 96 schools throughout the borough. The testing was held over a one-year basis, collecting and replacing the test tubes on a monthly basis. All of the installations, come rain or shine, were carried out with zero emissions by bicycle. In order to complete the installations, our consultants covered an average 180km each month in just two days. Testing and monitoring air quality around schools is quick, the equipment is discreet and the installation doesn’t cause any disruption to pupils, students or local residents.

These tubes were installed at the beginning of each month and were sent to a lab to review and analyse the levels of nitrogen dioxide. A monthly report was provided to Croydon Council with a final review summarising the results and a recommendation for improving air quality.

Key statistics

  • 1,056 diffusion tubes installed
  • 2,340km cycled over the course of the project
  • Nitrogen dioxide readings recorded in June 2021 were almost 50 per cent less that in January 2021

 

Result

As the testing took place in January 2020, prior to the COVID pandemic, through to the end of the calendar year, we were able to capture a diverse range of results that reflected the impact of the various COVID-related lockdowns.

The results demonstrated a sharp decrease in NO2 from March 2020 (average 26.19 µg/m³) to April 2020 (average 18.64 µg/m³), as lockdown was put in place and many children attended school via zoom and parents worked from home. As restrictions were eased and COVID cases reduced, we found a gradual increase in NO2 between July and September associated with higher traffic levels. This shows a strong correlation between COVID restrictions and reduction of NO2 pollution.

As children across the country, not just Croydon, return to school, emissions are likely to rise again. The challenge now for schools is to educate, encourage and implement travel plans for their students that engages them and promotes a healthier environment.

Air quality monitoring is crucial to forming a clear understanding of the impact of air pollution on public health, particularly in children. If healthier environments and habits are established at a young age, they are more likely to continue a healthy lifestyle as they go into adulthood. By monitoring air in and around cities, we can use this data to locate and address problem areas quickly, with strategies such as:

  • School travel plans
  • Healthy school streets
  • Low traffic neighbourhoods
  • Green screen installations
  • Cycle training; and
  • Improved wayfinding

 

All of which can be easily implemented to lower pollution before it gets out of control. On top of this, areas with less and quieter traffic create more enjoyable places to live and work that encourage social interaction and attract more visitors/residents to come to the area.

Air quality monitoring is just the start of helping schools, communities and our cities become cleaner and more enjoyable to be in. Find out more about our work including school travel plans, TfL STARS workshops and our sustainable transport projects in our blog and case studies.

If you’d like to speak to us about our air quality monitoring service, contact us directly by emailing us at info@mpsmartertravel.co.uk or calling 0207 960 2553.

Published in Case studies

We are pleased to announce that MP Smarter Travel are partnering with London Borough of Waltham Forest to gather consultation responses within their South Leytonstone low traffic neighbourhood (LTN).

 

What are low traffic neighbourhoods?

Low traffic neighbourhoods are places where motor vehicle traffic is restricted within residential areas, making the streets to help make it safer for residents to travel by foot or bicycle, and more environmentally friendly. Roads are normally blocked off to motor vehicles using planters, ANPR cameras or bollards to restrict traffic.

Alternative driving routes are set up throughout the LTNs so that people can still access the area, and residents who live within the LTN can easily access their property by motor vehicle.

 

Benefits of a low traffic neighbourhood

Low traffic neighbourhoods are an excellent way of making streets safer, with reports stating they can reduce road injuries by up to 50 per cent, and improve overall quality of life with cleaner air, quieter streets and relationships being built between neighbours.

In regards to the economy, the impact of LTNs is significant. According to research conducted by Living Streets, results have shown that people who walk to the high street can spend up to 40 per cent more than those who drive there, giving the local economy a direct boost.

 

Did you know?

  • Over 70 LTNs were implemented in London between March and Sept 2020 which an estimated 3.7 per cent of Londoners now living inside a new LTN.
  • Hackney has more LTNs than any other London Borough.
  • In London 36 per cent of car trips are under 2 kilometres (1.25 miles), a distance that can be walked in around 20 minutes.

As part of our work with London Borough of Waltham Forest, we’ll be speaking with schools, local residents, businesses and community groups, including places of worship, to get their input on LTNs and why, or why they wouldn’t, want them introduced.

Gathering direct input from the community is vital to ensure that any work that is implemented, meets the needs of the borough’s constituents and can be utilised and accessed by as wide a range of people as possible.

Low traffic neighbourhoods offer a great opportunity to help lower pollution, create more enjoyable places to live and work and create safer streets. If you would like to start the journey to implementing a low traffic neighbourhood in your borough, contact us at info@mpsmartertravel.co.uk or call 0207 960 2553.

 

Published in Blog

This month, Bikes for Business, an initiative with Team London Bridge, Better Bankside, Southwark Council, Shad Thames, Spa Terminus, Blue Bermondsey, Walworth LEN and Druid Street Traders, was launched to encourage local businesses to switch from using cars and vans to cargo bikes to delivery services and goods. Businesses who operate in and around the London Bridge area, or who deliver frequently within the vicinity, could be eligible for up to £700 in subsidies towards a cargo bike of their choosing.

MP Smarter Travel is managing the project delivery, working with cargo bike operators, businesses and each project partner to help reduce carbon emissions and encourage more sustainable transport throughout the area. Bikes for Business is funded by Impact on Urban Health.

To celebrate the launch, on Wednesday 23 June, MP Smarter Travel and Team London Bridge hosted a cargo bike convoy. Starting at Southwark Park, the convoy of 30+ cargo bike operators from across London, made their way from Bermondsey, along Druid Street up to London Bridge, through Borough Market before finishing at the Tate Modern for an informal networking session and photos. An exciting start to the day, the project was featured on BBC Radio London in the morning before the convoy took off and in the evening on Sky news.

pin birdsongcargobikes-600

According to London Friends of Green Spaces Network, 85 per cent of people say that nature makes them happier, so we had our Bikes for Business convoy play birdsong as they cycled to replace traffic noise. The flurry of birdsong also showed just how much more we would be able to hear and enjoy if more cargo bikes were used and fewer motor vehicles were on the road, making London a more people friendly and healthier place.

"We were honoured and humbled to participate in the Bikes for Business campaign this year. As a relatively new operator in what is quickly becoming a competitive sector in London, it was wonderful to see a huge number of service providers acting in solidarity for cargo bikes.

A huge thank you from Zhero to Team London Bridge for making this event such a success, it’s thoroughly inspiring to be a part of this movement and to see us Londoners catching up with our European friends in making the cargo-bike the go-to logistics vehicle for our city."

Joe Sharpe, Co-Founder, Zhero

Did you see us as we cycled through? Share your pictures with us on social media tagging @MP Smarter Travel and @teamlondonbridge and use the hashtag #BikesForBusiness.

If your business is located in or around London Bridge (SE1), or if you deliver regularly within the area, and would like to know more about Bikes for Business, visit the Team London Bridge website or contact bikesforbusiness@mpsmartertravel.co.uk for more information.

Published in Blog

We are looking to expand our team by recruiting a Graduate Sustainable Transport Consultant who will provide additional support on our range of projects across the public and private sectors. You will be responsible for delivery on projects that include; air quality monitoring, school travel plans, modal shift and engagement with businesses to promote sustainable transport initiatives.

This is a fantastic opportunity to gain experience in the sustainable transport sectors and gain project management experience as part of a supportive team of professionals with a shared passion for sustainable transport. We are keen to support your personal development, offering excellent career progression and the opportunity to play a role in work winning and business strategy.

Based in the vibrant Southbank area of London, we share an office with our parent company, Mattinson Partnership - a specialist recruiter for the built and natural environment. You can expect a busy, friendly office and an active social scene with regular staff events. Flexible working options are also available.

About you

We are looking for an outgoing and confident 'people person' who is comfortable speaking with large numbers of schools and businesses by phone and in-person to persuade them to participate in our clients' sustainable transport / air quality programmes. You will have excellent spoken and written communications skills, organisational skills and attention to detail. You should also be able to demonstrate an interest in transport, air quality and/or the built environment. A background in sales, customer service or survey delivery is desirable. A degree-level education (or equivalent) is preferred.

Role and responsibilities:

  • Contribute to a variety of projects including air quality monitoring, school travel plans, and engagement with businesses to promote cycling and air quality initiatives.
  • Lead projects to collect travel data from schools in central London by contacting schools, arranging to visit, and delivering in-class 'hands up' surveys.
  • Provide project support for our bikes for business initiative, promoting the use of cargo bikes across Southwark.
  • Provide input for our website and social media accounts.
  • Attend networking events as required.


Key skills and experience

  • Outgoing and confident manner
  • Excellent spoken and written communication skills
  • Excellent organisational skills and attention to detail
  • Demonstrated interest in transport, air quality and/or the built environment
  • Background in sales, customer service or survey delivery
  • Data analysis and report writing
  • Degree-level education or equivalent
  • Ability to ride a bicycle in London and own a bicycle (desired)


To apply

Apply now with your cv and cover letter highlighting what attracts you to the position and what you think you can bring to the role to info@mattinsonpartnership.com or apply on the Mattinson Partnership website

Deadline for applications is 5th July.

Published in Blog

This May, MP Smarter Travel partnered with Brent Council as they launched their first ever cargo bike project for businesses in and around Harlesden, to deliver goods and services, or for recycling collection. Three local businesses took part in this project, Sparks cycle shop, Harlesden Mutual Aid and Crazy Baker.

Sparks cycle shop used Zap Waste, working in partnership with Pedal Me, to collect their cardboard recycling. Instead of using a big truck which comes through the high street, restricting road access to pedestrians and other drivers, Zap Waste were able to park outside the shop, collect their recycling and load it into the bike, quickly and easily. What’s more, by using a cargo bike, carbon dioxide emissions were zero and there was no noise pollution.

“The Brent trial was a great opportunity for us to test collecting waste with cargo bikes. We offer simple, fast and flexible business waste collections, so it was important to put that to the test. We believe there is a healthy future for cargo bikes in waste logistics.”
Nic Hamilton, Founder, Zap Waste

Second to trial cargo bikes was Harlesden Mutual Aid, a local charity providing food and emergency supplies to residents in the area. Pedal Me were engaged to work with the charity to deliver both hot and cold food parcels and so far have delivered almost 200 meals.

Artisan bakery, Crazy Baker, known for their delicious cupcakes and fresh bread, also used Zap Waste to collect their dry mixed recycling. Located on a busy road with plenty of foot traffic, Zap Waste were able to pull up outside the bakery with little disruption to traffic and pedestrians, collect the recycling and head on to the recycling centre, quickly and easily. Again, as a result of using cargo bikes the trip had zero carbon emissions and made for a speedy pick up.

"We're really excited to be working with MP Smarter Travel to support new businesses to transition away from slow and inefficient vans or cars to more modern cargo bike based services like ourselves. We're often able to do the work of many motor vehicles with one cargo bike - saving our clients time and money and to make more sales."
Ben Knowles, CEO and Rider, Pedal Me

The ability to implement environmentally friendly and efficient deliveries and recycling collection is easy and cost effective. With more and more London boroughs and cities across the UK embracing more eco-friendly ways to transport and deliver goods and services, cargo bikes are becoming increasingly popular.

At MP Smarter Travel, we’ve worked with a number of cities and London boroughs to help businesses make the switch from vans to cargo bikes including Brighton & Hove and Southwark. If you’re a local council and want to find out more about how we can help those in your local area use cargo bikes, contact us at info@mpsmartertravel.co.uk

Published in Blog

Ghent, Oslo, Copenhagen and Madrid are cities that have made a concerted effort to make their centres car-free. In the UK, the city of Brighton & Hove could soon follow. But with no cars allowed, how does freight reach its destination?

What are Low Traffic Neighbourhoods?

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTN) are areas in which motor vehicle through traffic is restricted using physical barriers or ANPR cameras. Each vehicle can still access streets inside the LTN but can’t pass through. Without through traffic, LTN internal roads become quieter, offering a more attractive environment to encourage a mode shift to walking and cycling. London has been installing LTNs since the 1970s. Approximately 95 new LTNs have been installed as part of TfL’s Streetspace programme, which was launched during the COVID pandemic. Car-free city centres are essentially more ambitious LTNs, with the city centre as one or several Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.

LTNs and car-free city centres are controversial, one of the key concerns is how freight could be delivered to businesses in these areas. In Ghent, Belgium, one city which has implemented LTNs, essential transport such as emergency services and public transport retain access to the city centre, whereas freight is delivered using a combination of:

1. Re-timing

2. Consolidation; and

3. Switching from vans and lorries to cargo bikes and electric vehicles

Let’s look at how freight works in the car-free city centre of Ghent, Belgium.

Car-free city centre in Ghent, Belgium

Ghent’s Circulation Plan, introduced in April 2017, splits the city into seven Low Traffic Neighbourhoods with the centre having the tightest restrictions, albeit not entirely car-free.

Despite the Circulation Plan being seen with scepticism by national media before its implementation, the scheme has been a resounding success. In fact, a year after the plan’s introduction, Filip Watteeuw, Deputy Mayor, received his highest electoral score and was re-elected. The Circulation Plan has created a 40 per cent reduction in car use on key routes, a 25 per cent increase in bike use, and an 18 per cent reduction in inner city air pollution (Ref: Streetfilms).  

dim-hou-ghent-640

So how does freight work in Ghent?

Buses, taxis and emergency services are allowed access to the city centre, while all delivery vans must leave the area by 11am. Since the circulation plan was introduced, the city has seen a 20 per cent increase in new businesses in the hotel and restaurant industry with 7 per cent fewer bankruptcies, proving the initiative to not only be environmentally friendly, but a boost economically.

As businesses adapted their approach to freight deliveries, new cargo bike operators have emerged in the city. DHL now consolidate deliveries outside the city’s ring road, completing the last mile by bike. The city’s maintenance teams have also adopted cargo bikes for street cleaning and the management of green spaces. Even through the pandemic, courier Cargo Velo, have seen a surge in business to customer deliveries in the city centre. Multi-national supermarket, Carrefour, have made the move to using cargo bikes in Ghent through ShipTo. Cargo bikes, along with time-restricted van deliveries are helping Ghent’s businesses flourish.  

Combining electric vans, consolidation and cargo bikes, Ghent University and the City Council have begun ‘LOOP Ghent’. University deliveries are consolidated at a central hub, with the last mile completed by a single carrier using electric vehicles and cargo bikes. By consolidating deliveries into zero-emission vehicles, there are fewer delivery vehicles on the streets, with each vehicle producing fewer emissions, and each runs more fully-loaded. Ghent has proven that Low Traffic Neighbourhoods can be implemented without restricting the flow of goods to businesses.  

How a UK city is championing cleaner freight in its approach to become Carbon Neutral by 2030

In the UK, the city of Brighton & Hove is exploring the possibility of a ‘liveable city centre’ and are currently developing a pilot Low Traffic Neighbourhood in Hanover, as well as trialling five school streets closures, prohibiting motor vehicles from accessing some roads during school drop off and pick up times. Further  car-free measures could be introduced as early as 2023 as part of the council’s strategy to become a carbon neutral city by 2030 and in line with the findings of the resident-led and innovative Climate Assembly. If the changes go ahead, Brighton & Hove could employ similar measures as Ghent to keep their freight moving. 

In Brighton & Hove, transport is one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions, accounting for a third of the city’s carbon emissions. Like other cities, it has seen a significant increase in the number of freight and delivery vehicles in recent years, with the growth in online shopping and takeaway orders; this has grown further in the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Since September 2020, MP Smarter Travel has been working with Brighton & Hove City Council to deliver the eCargo Bike Accelerator project to replace petrol and diesel vehicles with clean and efficient cargo bikes. In its first phase, the project has demonstrated that even without car-free measures, there is strong demand for zero emission deliveries across the city. 

Brighton & Hove businesses are showing that cargo bikes represent a feasible solution for many urban freight trips. Trade businesses Mittens Plumbing and Mid-Sussex Electrical recently joined the eCargo Bike Accelerator project and now complete the majority of their city-centre home visits by cargo bike, drastically reducing their emissions and saving each business £350 a month on fuel, insurance and parking.

eCargo-bike-brighton

Image courtesy of Brighton & Hove City Council, eCargo Bike Accelerator project

Brighton and Hove City Council are well-placed to consider complimentary transport adaptations, including access for emergency vehicles, public transport and freight as part of a potential liveable city centre. Freight movements could be re-timed to happen outside of peak commuting hours, with deliveries consolidated in micro-hubs on the city’s outskirts. As has been shown in our recent work, there is strong business demand for switching to cargo bikes. Once introduced, Brighton & Hove could be a leading example of this new approach to freight working in a car-free city centre.

 

Published in Blog

As part of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we took a look at some of history’s most influential women and their contributions to the world around us. From renewable energy to community-focused city and town planning, women across the globe have made great contributions to the natural and built environment making the world what it is today.

 

Kate Sessions

Katherine Olivia "Kate" Sessions (November 1857 – March 1940), otherwise known as “The Mother of Balboa Park,” was an internationally recognised American botanist, horticulturist landscape architect. 

 

She is credited with creating Balboa Park, California when she negotiated with the City of San Diego to lease 30 acres of land in what is now called Balboa Park, as her growing fields. In exchange she committed to planting 100 trees a year in the park plus a further 300 trees in other areas of San Diego, many of which can still be seen today.

 

Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs (May 1916 - April 2006) was a Canadian-American author, theorist, journalist and activist who greatly influenced the worlds of urban studies, sociology and economics.

 

Jacobs was instrumental in organising grassroots movements to protect neighbourhoods from what many coined as ‘urban renewal,’ including Greenwich Village in New York City. Her work was so powerful she stopped the Lower Manhattan Expressway. After many years in New York City, Jacobs moved to Toronto in 1968 where she stopped the proposed Spadina Expressway with the argument, “Are cities being built for people or cars?”. She was also known as ‘the mother of Vancouverism,’ for her work in urban planning in Vancouver.

 

Up until her death in 2006, Jacobs has been championed as a key figure in advocating for a community-based approach to city building.

 

Octavia Hill

Born in Cambridge, England, Octavia Hill (December 1838 - August 1912) was a leading figure in improving housing for the poor and advocating for open, public spaces.

 

Concerned by the living conditions found in London slums, she convinced John Ruskin to fund her concept for a new type of housing whereby a landlord provides a clean and safe property, and in return the tenant is responsible for maintenance. Proving to be a successful housing initiative, by 1874, Hill owned 15 properties with over 3,000 tenants and also designed a garden and a row of six cottages in Southwark, just a few minutes walk from our very own offices.

 

Hill also campaigned for parks and open outdoor spaces to be made accessible to the general public and fought against a number of proposed developments on forest land ultimately saving Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill Fields from being built on. One of the three founders of the National Trust, her work continues today to preserve places of natural beauty and historical interest.

 

Sarah Guppy

Sarah Guppy (November 1770 - August 1852), was the first woman to patent a bridge in 1811, which involved making safe piling for bridges. 

 

Through a friend, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Guppy became involved in Great Western Railway working with the directors on various construction and travel projects and came up with the idea of planting willow trees and poplars to stabilise embankments.

 

Not limited to bridges and trains, Guppy was instrumental in lobbying for creating a network of local markets and traffic systems taking traffic out of the city and away from people’s homes avoiding unnecessary travel and a cleaner environment.

Published in Blog

By Arun Khagram, Head of Consulting

From today's perspective, on the eve of Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) launch, it seems absurd that diesel was recently promoted by central government as the more environmentally sustainable liquid fuel. In 2001 Westminster introduced a sliding scale for Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) making it cheaper to buy a car with lower CO2 emissions. Diesel cars, which produce lower levels of CO2 than petrol cars, were in effect promoted through financial incentives. Problem is, diesel produces four times more NO2 and 22 times more particulate matter than petrol. In other words, diesel is better for climate change, but far worse for your lungs.

ULEZ sign

The Ultra Low Emission Zone: a key achievement of the air quality narrative

In 2008 climate change fell out of fashion. Many of us were so focused on the global financial crisis that we couldn't address the looming amorphous environmental catastrophe, which always seemed just over the horizon. Although an extremely important issue, I always thought that climate change was a difficult sell. Why not appeal to peoples' desire for health, cleanliness, self-preservation, self-interest? By focusing on air pollution, we can address both climate change and the need to appeal to our short-term self-interests.

Today we are living in the age of air pollution. An Ultra Low Emission Zone covering the entirety of Greater London, politically unthinkable a decade ago, is now broadly accepted by Londoners. ULEZ will strictly regulate both diesel and petrol emissions through punitive financial measures. The acceptability of the ULEZ is partly due to the herculean task of engaging with people from all walks of life to spread awareness about air pollution, such as MP Smarter Travel's nitrogen dioxide testing in schools, or our promotion to cargo bikes for business deliveries. This narrative focus on air quality has perhaps come at the expense of emphasising climate change. However, this has been a pragmatic approach that will result in cleaner air for Londoners and contribute to a slightly cooler planet. 


Let us know your thoughts on our Twitter @mpSmarterTravel 

Published in Blog
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