A car-free day in Brussels resulted in the reduction of black carbon by 80 per cent, the European Cyclists' Federation (ECF) reports.
Cars were banned between 9am and 7pm on 16th September, and almost immediately after the ban started the concentration of black carbon decreased to about one fifth of a normal Sunday, and when cars returned the concentration increased back to ‘normal’ levels.
For nitrogen dioxide (NO2), the other main air pollutant caused by cars, the concentration dropped by about 30 per cent compared to a normal Sunday.
Many people also posted on social media pictures of people walking, cycling and playing on the streets of Brussels, and calls were made to introduce car-free days more often.
ECF has said it welcomes the calls, but claimed the real challenge is to decrease car use and increase active mobility every day, a task that needs to be addressed by all authorities.
Earlier this year, the European Commission started infringement procedures against France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania and the United Kingdom for violating EU air quality rules.
In a letter addressed to these member states, the ECF called for measures that would encourage people to cycle, including setting up a National Cycle Investment Fund, introducing or extending a national support scheme for the purchase of bikes and e-bikes, and implementing a national cycling strategy.