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Croydon Cyclists sign up to the Healthy Air Campaign

The Croydon Cycling Campaign doesn’t need much convincing about the health benefits of reducing air pollution. Disappointed to see that Croydon’s draft Health and Wellbeing Strategy didn’t once mention cycling, they got in touch with the council and councillors to press the issue, and the health benefits of air quality improvements were part of their case. They were interested to find out more about the Healthy Air Campaign so I went along to their November meeting.

We discussed the extent to which achieving the ‘Love London Go Dutch’ targets for cycling would help achieve legal limits for air pollution. Amsterdam certainly scores far more highly on the Soot Free Cities ranking of European cities, and research commissioned by the Central London Air Quality Cluster Group suggests that achieving levels of cycling similar to that of Amsterdam could achieve a 60% reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions from vehicles and a 47% reduction in particulate matter emissions from vehicles.

No-one seemed very surprised to hear research findings that while 82% of cyclists agree that poor air quality is a serious issue in London, 60% rarely or never avoid congested roads to breathe fewer exhaust fumes. One member doubted that taking quiet routes was a practical option for commuter cyclists, although I had to say that I feel like the extra mile on my way to and from work is energy well spent, instead of the Old Kent Road and Tower Bridge I get to take Greenwich foot tunnel and the Regent’s Canal.

Austen Cooper, Croydon Cycling Campaign’s co-ordinator, said: “Croydon’s air quality is failing to meet NO2 targets, and cycling levels are half the London average and nowhere near the targets set by the Mayor and GLA.  We therefore urgently need a co-ordinated, multi-agency, cross-party approach to ensure that pollution is cut and cycling increased.  Croydon Cycling Campaign will be doing its best to push that message, and welcomes support from other interested parties to achieve these public health goals”.

All in all I left feeling confident that cyclists will add a powerful voice to the Healthy Air Campaign. Members were motivated to raise the issue with local politicians and one member already had their Air Quality Egg on pre-order. You can’t ask for more than that.

photo by: Nanagyei

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