Providing urban transport systems which are effective and do not damage residents’ health should be a key government priority, especially as urbanisation increases both globally and, specifically, in London where the population growth rate is twice that of the UK as a whole, and where EU annual limits on nitrogen dioxide were in places, exceeded within 5 days.
Recent plans to ban the sale of diesel and petrol cars by 2040 are laudable, but do not go far enough to prevent particulate air pollution, which may lead to significant public health issues even at levels below limit values.
Electric cars still produce PM from brake and tyre wear and resuspension, mechanisms which are currently thought to contribute a large and growing proportion of urban traffic-related PM. A reduction in the number of cars and journeys, not just the proportion of internal combustion engines used, will be required to fully drive down PM levels in London, and this will need coordinated, realistic and effective policies designed to improve the convenience and quality of public transport and promote healthier transport choices such as walking and cycling.
Click below for the full Guardian reports by Professor Frank Kelly.