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Brixton Road a 'shameful' sign of how bad pollution in the capital has become...

One road in London breached its annual air pollution limits just five days into 2017, with many others to follow in the coming days.

Nitrogen dioxide levels must not be more than 200 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) in an hour more than 18 times in a whole year.

On Thursday evening this limit was broken on Brixton Road in Lambeth.

Campaigners say the findings are ‘shameful’, and last year MPs declared the problem a ‘public health emergency’.

The Guardian reports that last year, Putney High Street exceeded the hourly limit over 1,200 times.

Alan Andrews, a lawyer at ClientEarth said: “This is another shameful reminder of the severity of London’s air pollution and shows why the mayor has rightly made tackling it a top priority. It is absolutely essential that he now delivers on his promises and that the national government back him to the hilt.

“We need immediate action to cut pollution in the short-term and protect Londoners’ health during these pollution spikes.”

A spokesman for the mayor said: “The Brixton Road [breach] underscores why urgent action is needed to improve air quality across London.” He said Khan would shortly be announcing 10 new low emission bus zones, including one for Brixton Road.

“But this is not enough,” said the spokesman. “The government needs to match the Mayor’s commitment to improving air quality as quickly as possible.”

We recently reported how cycle tracks separated from motor traffic by as little as 7m can reduce cyclists’ exposure to air pollution by 20-30 per cent, while those further from roads can cut exposure to traffic fumes by up to half, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Canterbury, in New Zealand, measured cyclists’ exposure to fine particulate matter and carbon monoxide on the road, on the pavement, and on an off-road cycle path, and found exposure decreased 20-30 per cent on the pavement and 40-50 per cent away from traffic, compared to on the road.

Professor Simon Kingham, one of the authors of the report, Potential pollution exposure reductions from small-distance bicycle lane separations, told road.cc the findings suggest segregated cycle tracks can reduce cyclists’ exposure to motor vehicle pollution, especially on busy roads.

In the experiment three cyclists rode in unison with identical monitoring equipment along a road, adjacent pavement (7m away), and an off-road path (19m away in a park) for six hours 45 minutes over five afternoons in Autumn, in the central city park area of Christchurch, New Zealand. They sampled concentrations of ultrafine particles (UFPs), carbon monoxide (CO) and fine particulate matter (PM10).

The study concluded: “Mean exposure to UFPs and CO were approximately 20–30% (po0.01) lower at the sidewalk and 40–50% lower at the path, than at the road (po0.01).

“These results highlight the potential exposure benefits of segregating cycleways, which helps inform city planning. Separating cycle lanes on key routes could help reduce cyclists' cumulative intake of pollutants, especially on heavily-trafficked roads.”

And just this week a French business announced it will this year begin selling a scarf that doubles as an air filter for cyclists and pedestrians who are concerned about pollution and also includes an air quality monitor that connects to a smartphone app.

The product, called Wair, is among thousands of new products and concepts from fledgling businesses and tech start-ups alike that will be featured at this week’s CES 2017 in Las Vegas.

As well as a unisex scarf (currently offered at €87.50), initial wearable tech products from Wair for which pre-orders are being taken on its website (link is external) include a snood aimed at women (also €87.50) and a men’s neck collar (€54.17).

Besides the initial cost of the scarf, which comes with two filters, purchasers will need to factor in the expense of replacement filters, which Wair says need to be changed between every two and four weeks and which cost from €8 to €10 on its website.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

30 comments

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brooksby [2919 posts] 1 year ago
6 likes

Surely if a road's air quality is *that* bad then you take emergency measures: ban HGVs, ban diesels, ban buses; whatever it takes...

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cyclisto [360 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

Have to agree with brooksby. More than half a century ago when there was the Smog, the government managed to tackle it relatively fast. Nowadays some people still consider diesel cars as "eco" due to their reduced CO2 emissions while they die slowly day by day with their exhaust fumes.

And yes, cyclists are the no1 stakeholders in this case as poor air quality will kill much more cyclists in the long run than road accidents, if we take into account the years of life that we all will lose. The problem is that with traffic exhaust fumes the sense of smell rapidly deteriorates, making us unable to understand the true importance of the problem. I believe urban air pollution is the most important problem we have to fight for, and unfortunately only a few of cyclists admit it...

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beezus fufoon [973 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes
cyclisto wrote:

More than half a century ago when there was the Smog, the government managed to tackle it relatively fast.

I suspect your view isn't including the previous 150 years in which it was building up to that level in the first place...

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Ramz [72 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes

Most of the pollution is caused by cars and taxis. I have to agree that the government inaction is astounding. Another comprison is with Paris, where the Mayor bans half of all private cars (using odd/even number plates) on certain days, and makes public transport free. Why are our politicians so cowardly to act??

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Critchio [240 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes

NO2 pollution comes from combustion engines. If pollution is that horrendous then drastic action is needed. Ban combustion engines in the specified zones, simple. It's the only way. I would also suggest the biggest offenders being the huge lorry and truck diesel engines and those smaller vehicle drivers that have to possess gas guzzling powerful cars to negotiate the city when a super low emission commuter car is really what they should be using, average speed being sub 12mph and all. I reckon if that were the case then pollutant levels would be better. It just shows the parasitic and selfish nature of the human race. Nobody gives a fuck, then it's too late.

Avatar
beezus fufoon [973 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
Ramz wrote:

Most of the pollution is caused by cars and taxis. I have to agree that the government inaction is astounding. Another comprison is with Paris, where the Mayor bans half of all private cars (using odd/even number plates) on certain days, and makes public transport free. Why are our politicians so cowardly to act??

trouble is in Paris, people buy two cars to get around the number plate thing

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Ramuz [323 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

Is it a coincidence that Leeds and London - two cities suffering from illegal air pollution - both have a large number of taxis, normally diesel, and inevitably leaving their engines running at taxi ranks?

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Mungecrundle [866 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Tackling pollution at the source is the proper answer, but the urban architecture and layout of the street in trapping pollution at ground level is also something that could be looked into.

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leaway2 [82 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

The government here should immediately treble investment in developing smog filter scarves.
/Sarcasm.

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HarrogateSpa [514 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

The worst NO2 pollution comes from diesel cars.

Trucks are held to higher standards, and checked in real-world driving conditions. Cars are tested in lab conditions, and typically emit six times more NO2 when being driven, than when being tested in the lab.

The technology used to reduce emissions from trucks could be used to reduce emissions from cars, but isn't, because there's a cost, and it's not compulsory.

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Pinchastinkerov [7 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

It's official then MTBers are healthier than Road Riders!

Avatar
Awavey [371 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes
Ramz wrote:

Most of the pollution is caused by cars and taxis. I have to agree that the government inaction is astounding. Another comprison is with Paris, where the Mayor bans half of all private cars (using odd/even number plates) on certain days, and makes public transport free. Why are our politicians so cowardly to act??

 

because people who drive diesel cars,also vote in elections, it would be political suicide to attempt a ban at the moment because the general public arent on the same page, so to speak, with Nox pollution and dont understand the dangers or risks of it.

I hear it every day already from work colleagues, seemingly highly intelligent rational folk, who simply dont understand Nox pollution or its link to diesel at all and think any attempt to curb their use of diesel cars is part of the "motorist cash cow", "war on motorists" mantra

how do you explain to people paying zero VED currently on a diesel car they just bought, that actually their car isnt environmentally friendly at all

Avatar
beezus fufoon [973 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Awavey wrote:
Ramz wrote:

Most of the pollution is caused by cars and taxis. I have to agree that the government inaction is astounding. Another comprison is with Paris, where the Mayor bans half of all private cars (using odd/even number plates) on certain days, and makes public transport free. Why are our politicians so cowardly to act??

 

because people who drive diesel cars,also vote in elections, it would be political suicide to attempt a ban at the moment because the general public arent on the same page, so to speak, with Nox pollution and dont understand the dangers or risks of it.

I hear it every day already from work colleagues, seemingly highly intelligent rational folk, who simply dont understand Nox pollution or its link to diesel at all and think any attempt to curb their use of diesel cars is part of the "motorist cash cow", "war on motorists" mantra

how do you explain to people paying zero VED currently on a diesel car they just bought, that actually their car isnt environmentally friendly at all

not to mention the various multinational corporations and industries all heavily invested in the situation - who have arguably more power than governments and who donate sizeably to the political parties who scratch their backs, and who are then rewarded by cushy consultancy positions after their term of office...

Avatar
Topcat [39 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

I'm assuming that HarrogateSpa is quoting the same study as published by the guardian; showing that in real world conditions current diesel engines emit 6x more NOx than HGV's roughly equating to 10x per litre of fuel burnt.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/06/diesel-cars-are-10-times-more-toxic-than-trucks-and-buses-data-shows

In other words, large vehicles have to meet emission standards in the real world and passenger vehicles have been given a simple to defeat emissions standard that does not need to stand in real world use. This is something that has been observed for years by people in the motor trade and those who have to put up with diesel emissions. Since Euro V standards have come in large vehicle are noticeably cleaner (probably due to exhaust urea injection) and passenger vehicles have a horrid bleachy exhaust smell that can give you people headaches when exposed for long periods (NOx). While Euro VI seems to show improvement its still a big problem. It is hard to get around the fact that small diesel engines running at varied speeds and often expected to accelerate quickly will produce soot and emissions that cannot be easily controlled. Poor traffic conditions mean we have a lot of these vehicles operating at far from ideal conditions.

I can't see diesel going anywhere, our governments are under pressure to reduce CO2 outputs as well as NOx an PM in cities. A switch back to petrol cars would cause other problems for emissions targets. The only real solutions are removing roadways, reducing unnecesarry journeys and consolidating freight movements as much as possible as well looking to alternative fuels.

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ianrobo [1219 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

about 18mths ago I was shamed by picking a diesel car and not realising the damage it did until a BBC report.

So as I lease a car, the lease is up in March and switching over to an hybrid, OK still could cause congestion but should I feel morally better for it ?

Not having a car is no option.

 

Avatar
ktache [695 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
ianrobo wrote:

should I feel morally better for it ?

Maybe, especially if it were a plug in hybrid, and you were on a lekky tariff that used more renewables.

Though not one of those pointless, massive SUV hybrids.

Avatar
ianrobo [1219 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
ktache wrote:
ianrobo wrote:

should I feel morally better for it ?

Maybe, especially if it were a plug in hybrid, and you were on a lekky tariff that used more renewables.

Though not one of those pointless, massive SUV hybrids.

Well it is a SUV Hybrid I am looking at Kia - Niro but not like what you think ? 

Now I would love a plug in as at work I get it for free BUT the leasing prices make it unaffordable. This country as usual is shit, the Hybrids/Plugins are very rare for the average family car like say a Focus despite the car being available in Europe and equilivant in the US ! 

Avatar
Bluebug [310 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Awavey wrote:
Ramz wrote:

Most of the pollution is caused by cars and taxis. I have to agree that the government inaction is astounding. Another comprison is with Paris, where the Mayor bans half of all private cars (using odd/even number plates) on certain days, and makes public transport free. Why are our politicians so cowardly to act??

 

because people who drive diesel cars,also vote in elections, it would be political suicide to attempt a ban at the moment because the general public arent on the same page, so to speak, with Nox pollution and dont understand the dangers or risks of it.

I hear it every day already from work colleagues, seemingly highly intelligent rational folk, who simply dont understand Nox pollution or its link to diesel at all and think any attempt to curb their use of diesel cars is part of the "motorist cash cow", "war on motorists" mantra

how do you explain to people paying zero VED currently on a diesel car they just bought, that actually their car isnt environmentally friendly at all

The government spent the late 90s and early 2000s telling people to get diesel vehicles and even changed the VED bands to reflect this so they could get their CO2 levels down. As soon as loads of people complied we were then all told that diesel cars and vans are not environmentally friendly at all. (Added to that is the issue that those doing town driving only in small vehicles shouldn't have diesels as the engines are unsuitable for that type of driving.)

People can't just scrap the car or van they brought two or three years ago, and it would be more environmentally unfriendly if they did. The electricity to produce the vehicles etc comes from fossil fuels.

So any government placing restrictions immediately would be voted out. Incidentally the Mayor of London is planning to phrase in restrictions but it will take until he's up for re-election before they come into force. However his restrictions will mostly annoy van owners as he's aiming at vehicles over 5 years old.

Avatar
ianrobo [1219 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
Bluebug wrote:

Incidentally the Mayor of London is planning to phrase in restrictions but it will take until he's up for re-election before they come into force. However his restrictions will mostly annoy van owners as he's aiming at vehicles over 5 years old.

As Mayor of London where the majority dont use their car for Sadiq he has the power and political backing to do something. It happens in Madrid, Paris etc no reason why London can not, heck could even change the congestion charge and widen it ...

Behaviour has to change and there are alternatives to diesel for a lot of people and companies but you have to change regulations etc first.

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... [1976 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Bluebug wrote:

The government spent the late 90s and early 2000s telling people to get diesel vehicles and even changed the VED bands to reflect this so they could get their CO2 levels down. As soon as loads of people complied we were then all told that diesel cars and vans are not environmentally friendly at all. (Added to that is the issue that those doing town driving only in small vehicles shouldn't have diesels as the engines are unsuitable for that type of driving.)
.

What exasperates me is it seemed obvious to me _at the time_ that this was a stupid idea. Anyone who actually travelled on city streets and had to breathe shouldn't have needed to be _told_ that diesel cars and vans are not environmentally-friendly, it was blindingly obvious (or chokingly obvious).

It's just yet another bit of stupid short-term/easy-fix policy making of the Blair government.

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... [1976 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

To be truly depressed (and enraged) just read the comments on the Daily Mail report about the finding on dementia and traffic-pollution (or noise). It's just 'deny, deny, deny'. Nothing can be allowed to enter the brain of a petrol-head if it suggests there's a problem with driving.

I do think part of the problem is that many are addicted to cars. I know its partly structural, that people aren't given a lot of choice, but DM threads are evidence that its also psychological. It's like dealing with a near-universal drug-addiction problem.

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... [1976 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
ianrobo wrote:
Bluebug wrote:

Incidentally the Mayor of London is planning to phrase in restrictions but it will take until he's up for re-election before they come into force. However his restrictions will mostly annoy van owners as he's aiming at vehicles over 5 years old.

As Mayor of London where the majority dont use their car for Sadiq he has the power and political backing to do something. It happens in Madrid, Paris etc no reason why London can not, heck could even change the congestion charge and widen it ...

Behaviour has to change and there are alternatives to diesel for a lot of people and companies but you have to change regulations etc first.

Not sure how much power he really has. Much of it is down to national government (don't know why London doesn't get the same kind of powers the Scottish government does).

But he probably does have the power to do _something_, more than he actually is, that's for sure. I fear he's just in it for ego and career, though, rather than actually trying to change anything for the better.

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ianrobo [1219 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

he does have a great power in this area, in fact with transport he can do what he likes. Remeber London is a city where despite a Tory mayor for 8 years no plans to cancel the congestion charge, it worked, why not have the same charge across whole of London at peak times or areas of high pollution ?

He can ban diesels at certain times, he can renew the bus flew with greener vechicles etc

HE can expand the curtrent cycle highways

HE has frozen fares which can only encourage more not to use the car.

London is NOT the UK but London leads 

 

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... [1976 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
ianrobo wrote:

he does have a great power in this area, in fact with transport he can do what he likes. Remeber London is a city where despite a Tory mayor for 8 years no plans to cancel the congestion charge, it worked, why not have the same charge across whole of London at peak times or areas of high pollution ?

He can ban diesels at certain times, he can renew the bus flew with greener vechicles etc

HE can expand the curtrent cycle highways

HE has frozen fares which can only encourage more not to use the car.

London is NOT the UK but London leads 

 

_Does_ he have the power to actually ban diesel cars? I honestly just don't know what the facts are there. Though personally I never agreed to them being allowed in the first place, yet alone encouraged via the tax system. That black cabs are still deisel is just ridiculous, and another reason to feel little sympathy for black cabbies.

Does seem that with technology, maybe congestion charging could be both extended and made more nuanced/sophisticated. i.e. perhaps it could be set so that it varied dynamically in response to actual congestion levels in different areas?

It seems a bit of a blunt instrument as it currently stands, both in terms of geography and time.

Avatar
ianrobo [1219 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

yes he can ban them, he has total control of London ....

and as for the taxi's how right you are. I was shocked when I went to NYC last year and ALL the yellow cabs are hybrid ....

you can ban diesel over a number of years and give peopel time to renew their fleets if they want to. For in city deliveries electric versions should be used anyway.

Avatar
ConcordeCX [634 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

 _Does_ he have the power to actually ban diesel cars? I honestly just don't know what the facts are there. Though personally I never agreed to them being allowed in the first place, yet alone encouraged via the tax system. That black cabs are still deisel is just ridiculous, and another reason to feel little sympathy for black cabbies. Does seem that with technology, maybe congestion charging could be both extended and made more nuanced/sophisticated. i.e. perhaps it could be set so that it varied dynamically in response to actual congestion levels in different areas? It seems a bit of a blunt instrument as it currently stands, both in terms of geography and time.

it needs to be blunter, not more nuanced.

No private motors in the city centre, except for residents, who must have hybrid or electric, and a designated private parking place.

Buses and taxis electric or hybrid only.

Lorries and delivery vans ditto, with lorries required to have car-level cabs and all-round visibility.

Delivery vans and lorries to be licensed to avoid people buying them just to be able to drive into the centre.

No parking anywhere.

Avatar
ianrobo [1219 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

talking about this the mayor of Paris has just announced major plans to pedestrianse large parts of Paris city centre and yet we still argue about taxi drivers on Oxford Street, well sorry but eff them, make people walk, wont harm them ! 

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2855 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
ianrobo wrote:

he does have a great power in this area, in fact with transport he can do what he likes. Remeber London is a city where despite a Tory mayor for 8 years no plans to cancel the congestion charge, it worked, why not have the same charge across whole of London at peak times or areas of high pollution ?

He can ban diesels at certain times, he can renew the bus flew with greener vechicles etc

HE can expand the curtrent cycle highways

HE has frozen fares which can only encourage more not to use the car.

London is NOT the UK but London leads 

 

_Does_ he have the power to actually ban diesel cars? I honestly just don't know what the facts are there. Though personally I never agreed to them being allowed in the first place, yet alone encouraged via the tax system. That black cabs are still deisel is just ridiculous, and another reason to feel little sympathy for black cabbies. Does seem that with technology, maybe congestion charging could be both extended and made more nuanced/sophisticated. i.e. perhaps it could be set so that it varied dynamically in response to actual congestion levels in different areas? It seems a bit of a blunt instrument as it currently stands, both in terms of geography and time.

 

It is possible to convert diesel engines to run on propane. It costs a couple of thousand for the conversion process but given that propane is a much cheaper fuel, the conversion would probably pay for itself ina  couple of years. Propane burns far more cleanly in an internal combustion engine and there are next to no particulates, as well as far lower levels of NOx. This could be phased in over a 5 year period for example.

Meanwhile petrol cars could be converted to run on LPG and the switch is fairly cheap. Again, emissions levels are much lower and the fuel is cheaper, so it would also pay for itself for drivers who clock larger distances (like mini cab drivers).

Introducing incentives for cab drivers and mini cab drivers (such as a lower congestion charge rate or lower VED) to make that switch would be a fairly simple move, but would have a huge benefit.

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... [1976 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
ConcordeCX wrote:
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

 _Does_ he have the power to actually ban diesel cars? I honestly just don't know what the facts are there. Though personally I never agreed to them being allowed in the first place, yet alone encouraged via the tax system. That black cabs are still deisel is just ridiculous, and another reason to feel little sympathy for black cabbies. Does seem that with technology, maybe congestion charging could be both extended and made more nuanced/sophisticated. i.e. perhaps it could be set so that it varied dynamically in response to actual congestion levels in different areas? It seems a bit of a blunt instrument as it currently stands, both in terms of geography and time.

it needs to be blunter, not more nuanced.

No private motors in the city centre, except for residents, who must have hybrid or electric, and a designated private parking place.

Buses and taxis electric or hybrid only.

Lorries and delivery vans ditto, with lorries required to have car-level cabs and all-round visibility.

Delivery vans and lorries to be licensed to avoid people buying them just to be able to drive into the centre.

No parking anywhere.

 

A more targetted and nuanced system doesn't equate to a weaker one.  Rather it would mean targetting it where it was most needed, and hence would be more efficient in terms of maximum effect for given political cost.  And introducing such charges does have a substantial cost in terms of electoral politics.   All the things you suggest I'd introduce if I were El Generalissimo - dictator-for-life-of-old-London-town, but as, sadly, I'm not, they all require a lot of political capital that may not be available.

All kinds of blanket charges tend to be inefficient.  Charging a single flat rate for things always has the risk of penalising light-users and letting the worst offenders off lightly, and hence actually incentivizing what one wants to avoid (e.g. if you have the same punishment for murder as robbery, robbers will have a reason to kill their victims).

Of course, I don't really know how technically practical a more graduated, dynamic, congestion charge really is.  But technology seems to be developing in a direction that makes such things much more feasible.

Also it might help if 'congestion' and 'pollution' charging were both applied but kept clearly separate.  Electric vehicles add to the former but not the latter.

Oh, and I really think there are far too many taxis in London, of all kinds.  There are too many because they are effectively subsidised by not paying the full costs they impose on everyone, so the 'market' reacts by producing a sub-optimal, excessive, number of them.

Avatar
velo-nh [137 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
ianrobo wrote:

This country as usual is shit, the Hybrids/Plugins are very rare for the average family car like say a Focus despite the car being available in Europe and equilivant in the US ! 

If you drove on the right like normal people, maybe you'd have more options.