Please help us create a safer, more accessible National Cycle Network for all Donate today

Cycling and walking an important part of solution for cleaner air

Cyclists travel alongside traffic in London
6 January 2017

Today London's air breached the legal air pollution limit for the capital, just five days into January. We are warning that this is further evidence there has never been a more important time to shift short journeys away from cars and towards walking and cycling.

There has never been a more important time to shift short journeys away from cars towards walking and cycling.

- Rachel White, Sustrans Senior Policy & Political Advisor

Rachel White, our Senior Policy & Political Advisor said:

"With London breaking the 2017 air pollution limits in Brixton only five days into the year, there has never been a more important time to shift short journeys away from cars towards walking and cycling.

“The Government is not doing enough to tackle the health impact of diesel fumes with road transport responsible for 80% of the pollution where legal limits are being broken. It is clear that we will need more than a technological shift to electronic vehicles. We need a cultural shift towards healthy, clean alternatives such as getting round by foot or on bike for shorter journeys and we need it across the whole UK.

“At a time when air pollution is being linked to cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and now changes linked to dementia it is clear that action must be taken now."

As a member of the Healthy Air Campaign, a broad coalition of health, transport and environmental organisations, we support the need for urgent action to improve air quality in the UK.

What we're doing

We are currently working in nine schools in London’s most polluted borough, Lambeth. Our aim, as part of the Air-Mazing Journeys project, is to raise awareness about air pollution through promotion of sustainable travel, monitoring air quality and education. As part of the project commissioned by Lambeth Council, we have installed nitrogen dioxide diffusion tubes to help us measure levels of air pollution around schools, and the results will be collected soon.

Over the next four months, we will be monitoring particulate matter (hazardous air particles), holding car-free and walk to school days as well as healthy travel challenges, mapping cleaner routes to schools and some bespoke activities like counting lichen on trees.

Find out what we think should be done to improve air quality