Sustrans has called for streets and public spaces to be redesigned and ‘school streets’ to be implemented in order to tackle air pollution.
This comes as a joint survey by Unicef UK and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health found that 92% of child health experts believe the public should be more concerned about the negative impact of air pollution on children’s health. The warnings were echoed by Unicef in its ‘Healthy air for every child’ report, published yesterday.
Xavier Brice, CEO for Sustrans, said: “We welcome the report launched by Unicef, which highlights the need to tackle air pollution head on and protect children’s health with a Little Lungs Fund and cross Governmental healthy air for children action plan.
“There is a mounting body of evidence which reveals the detrimental impact of air pollution on our wellbeing, from chronic respiratory disease to reduced cognitive function. And it’s children who are most susceptible to the health impacts of dirty air as their lungs still develop. Despite this, the Government admits that toxic levels of pollution are likely to persist for at least another ten years. This is simply unacceptable.
“The current Clean Air Strategy falls short of tackling road transport which is a huge contributor to the polluted air we breathe. One in four cars on the road are estimated to be on the school run at peak times exposing our children to toxic air pollution and road danger.
“We need to redesign our streets and public spaces, especially around schools, so that more people choose to walk or cycle instead of drive. In addition, helping more schools to implement ‘school streets’, whereby the streets immediately outside schools are closed to motor vehicles at drop off and pick up times will help reduce childrens’ exposure and create safer environments for families to walk and cycle.
“This will not only hugely improve air quality, but also our wider health and traffic congestion. However, this requires sustained, long-term investment in cycling and walking and cross-departmental leadership and investment now to make the change.”