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Hitting UK cycling targets would save thousands of lives and billions of pounds, says Sustrans

New model aims to help make the case for cycling infrastructure

Sustrans says that if government targets for walking and cycling were met in England and Scotland, it would prevent more than 13,000 premature deaths from air pollution and result in £9.31bn in benefits to the public purse over a ten-year period.

A new model from Sustrans aims to help local authorities make the case for investment in walking and cycling by expressing the extent to which sustainable travel can reduce levels of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide.

Ann Ballinger, lead modeller and air quality expert at Eunomia, said: “This is the first time that Sustrans’ data has been used alongside public health data to understand what impacts walking and cycling schemes have on an individual’s exposure to air pollution.

“Our analysis suggests investment in cycling and walking has considerable potential to improve local air pollution. We believe this innovative model could be of considerable value in supporting local authorities and government as these bodies consider options to tackle the air pollution emergency at a local level.”

Almost 40 million people in the UK are currently living in areas clouded by health-damaging and illegal levels of pollution from diesel vehicles, according to a recent study.

Many towns and cities are now also below World Health Organisation standards for particulate matter, 45 per cent of which comes from car tyres and brake wear and which therefore won’t be reduced by a move to electric vehicles.

Xavier Brice, CEO for Sustrans, said: “At a time when road transport is responsible for the majority of air quality limit breaches in the UK, it has never been more important to reduce the number of motorised vehicles on our roads.

“The new findings reiterate that walking and cycling has a huge role to play in tackling the air quality crisis that causes tens of thousands of premature deaths every year. If we are to make a major modal shift, we need to provide a network of direct protected cycle routes on roads in addition to quieter routes across the UK.

“We’re urging governments at all levels to include funding for walking and cycling infrastructure in their Clean Air Plans and the UK Government to prioritise investment in active travel as part of wider urgent action to make air safe again.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today announced that London and Bengaluru in India will lead a new global partnership of up to 20 other world cities to tackle air pollution across the world.

The global air quality network will work to develop solutions and will be managed by the C40 Climate Leadership Group, an alliance of cities which have committed to tackling climate change.

“Only by working together will we help beat this international health crisis and protect people from breathing in air so filthy it damages their lungs and causes diseases,” he said.

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BehindTheBikesheds | 6 years ago

My local councillor said he couldn't cycle to see how shit the desugnated cycle 'corridors' were because he's too fat.
Then basically did fuck all after I pointed out that plans from 13 years back that cost a pittance and were woefully short of what was required were not implemented, not one for the whole district council.
He pushed some emails around and the county council basically said not a priority, we've only got a few hundred million to spend on roads for motors ( or words to that effect).
Another councillor I spoke to about reducing the speed limit of a nsl to a 40 said he'd introduce me to the right petson to speak to and did nothing, made excuses.
Bith fat fuck conservatives who our very much middle England town will only ever vote in.
If their inaction is causing deaths both directly and indirectly why aren't we talking them to court over something that is beneficial to everyone?

Bluebug | 6 years ago

The only time councillors will listen is if you talk about financial costs to the borough/district of not implementing this not the environment or public health. So if for example you make a case of more walking and cycling means more people will pop into local shops, cafes and pubs more frequently like in Waltham Forest then they will listen.

burtthebike | 6 years ago

"...aims to help local authorities make the case for investment in walking and cycling by expressing the extent to which sustainable travel can reduce levels of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide."

They already know this, and they all have policies which put walking and cycling first but they ignore them and build more roads.  Given the vast amount of evidence and data that already exists that they ignore, and their own policies which they firmly ignore, I suspect that this latest data will be very firmly ignored.  If thirty years of campaigning for cycling has taught me nothing else, it is that councillors are the biggest hypocrites on the planet.


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