Bowes and Bounds Connected

A Community Network for Bowes Park and Bounds Green

Air quality campaign group Clean Air London have published figures this week revealing the North Circular, has the worst traffic fumes of any road in London.

The official emissions figures were released by Transport for London, but only after a freedom of information request.

Exhaust emissions data show that the A406 which carries more than 60,000 vehicles a day, has London's worst air quality - specifically a stretch of the road near Walthamstow ranked highest for four of the five most dangerous air pollutants, including benzene, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and fine particles of unburned carbon called PM10s and PM2.5s.

Other badly affected roads were the A13 in Tower Hamlets and the Dartford crossing (A282) near Thurrock. In central London Oxford Street and Piccadilly were rated high on the air pollution index because of the number of and taxis and buses.

We have written on this site before about the issue of air quality on the A406 - specifically the Bowes School site which is home to a monitoring station where real-time data is made available via the web.  Air pollution from traffic has been linked to poor health including heart disease, stroke and respiratory diseases as well as some cancers and asthma.

The full details of the figures released this week - including a breakdown of which elements are present in the poluted atmoshphere can be found on the Clean Air London Website.

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It's awful and I worry especially about the kids at Bowes Primary. In the town I grew up in, some days the smog was so bad that student athletes weren't allowed to do their normal afterschool training because it would damage young lungs. It's tragic that with people's increased awareness 40 years on - and the improvements in car emission technology - we still face the same problems.

The root cause is obviously too many cars on the road. On top of this, I have been working hard advocating more stringent European level air quality standards - this was in fact the basis of Bowes Labour's official submission opposing Pinkham Way - but in truth that is attacking the symptom of the problem rather than the root cause.

So how to get fewer vehicles on the NCR? As a daily cyclist I'd advocated that everyone get on their bikes but it ain't gonna happen so move on. Getting kids to walk to school instead of being driven is also our policy but it only accounts for a small proportion of the problem. Investment in mass transportation is always the right answer but infrastructure projects are slow, especially in times of austerity.

Having said that, there is one friend from the anti-Pinkham Way movement who was showing me some advanced sketches for an orbital east-west public transport network. A great idea. Our currently radiocentric, north-south transport network highlights journeys from Enfield into London but the fact is that more and more traffic nowadays is suburb to suburb. I've championed the gentleman's idea at the Council but the fact is that a huge project like this can only be undertaken at a London or national level. Meaning that we should get Joanne McCartney and the MPs on board. It could be done a cross-party basis. Shouldn't be a problem. 

Lastly, there is the need to plan town centres more holistically so that residents can get more of the services they need within walking distance and not feel they have to jump in the car. We've tried to build that into the North Circular Area Action plan, indeed, it is the basis of the future development of Ritz Parade. Which brings us back to another thread recently started on the website



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