One of the best and easiest ways to reduce air pollution is to encourage people to walk or cycle more. Walking and cycling are the cleanest ways to get around the city – both of which can have huge benefits for health, greenhouse gas emissions, air quality and road safety. Seville, along with many other cities over the COVID-19 pandemic, prove how rapid the transition can be.
25% of all car journeys are under 2 miles and considered to be walking distance for most people. New walking and cycling infrastructure can make these options more appealing and allow people to make that positive choice. Birmingham must focus on making its infrastructure safe, convenient and comfortable. Infrastructure can include: pedestrianised streets/widened pavements, raised/segregated/widened bike lanes, bike hire schemes, bike parking, redesigned intersections to prioritise safety of people over speed of vehicles, traffic light signalling that prioritises walkers and cyclists and ensuring transport links are well connected to these walking and cycling networks.
Reducing the amount of cars on the road can also be accomplished using methods that incentivise walking and cycling. These can include: bike hire schemes, open-street days, cycling and road safety lessons, bike and walk to work days, ‘school streets’ initiatives.
Starting car clubs or car sharing schemes at work are other ways of improving air quality. If this technique is adopted by most workplaces in Birmingham, it will visibly reduce all traffic, including that at rush hour – every little action helps!
Recycling more and more effectively is a great way to reduce air pollution. In Birmingham, 300,000 tonnes of black bin bag rubbish is taken to an incinerator – where harmful pollutants are being released into the atmosphere. Recycling and re-purposing means less waste will reach the incinerator and therefore improve air quality. You can read more about this specific issue HERE and social media.
Birmingham City Council has to take initiative and monitor air pollution at more than just 3 locations. Doing this will give a clearer perspective on any localised issues and show where the real hotspots are within Birmingham. When this is acknowledged, planning interventions will be easier. One way to do this would be encouraging schools and colleges to get the students using air testing kits to test local air quality, compiling the results and campaigning for the council to act.
The link below contains a lot of information and ideas: