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Canterbury Road Hurlstone Park - now part of the amalgamated Inner West Council.   High traffic and very few street trees.

Canterbury Road Hurlstone Park – now part of the amalgamated Inner West Council. High traffic and very few street trees despite there being room for them and power lines located on the opposite side of the road.

This week the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in London released a report by the Imperial College looking at how to make air cleaner to “cut” death rate because air pollution is a contributing factor in whopping 25,000 deaths a year in the UK.

In a separate article, dated 2nd December 2016, about air quality alerts being issued at bus stops, tube stations & roadsides across London, the mortality numbers are different.  Air pollution is now Britain’s most lethal environmental risk, killing about 40,000 people prematurely each year.”

The Imperial College report advocates the following interesting changes to lower air pollution –

  • Road speed humps should be removed because they force drivers to accelerate & decelerate thereby causing a rise in of harmful emissions air pollution.
  • Cycle lanes should be separated from vehicles by foliage. [I like this one.]
  • Cycle routes should not be along high traffic routes.
  • Instead of the traditional living room at the front of the house, it should be moved to the back of the house to put more distance from passing traffic. [This poses a problem for those living in apartments built along busy main roads.]
  • Idling any vehicle outside schools & retirement homes should be banned, again because of harmful emissions being added to the air.
  • New schools, childcare facilities & retirement homes should be built away from high traffic areas.

“…… planners must take into account the effect of air pollution when designing speed reduction schemes and that any ‘physical measures’ must be designed ‘to minimise sharp decelerations and consequences accelerations.’”

The study compared one street that had speed humps & a 20mph speed limit to a similar street with the same speed limit, but with road cushions instead of humps.  They found that a petrol driven car driving along the street with the speed humps produced –

  • 64% more Nitrogen Dioxide,
  • 47% more particulate matter &
  • almost 60% more Carbon Monoxide than the street with road cushions.

If this isn’t a great argument to dispense with or to refuse the installation of speed humps, I don’t know what is.  Speed humps are also noisy when vehicles travel over them.  Kerthump!

One thing I did not know was that using the brakes grinds very fine particulate matter which is released into the atmosphere.

Traffic flow improvement was also recommended because where there is congestion there is also an increase in air pollution.

The report also suggested public awareness initiatives such as ‘car-free days,’ charging to enter traffic congestion areas & creating clean air zones.

With the massive increase in development happening across Sydney the issue of managing & lessening air pollution is serious.   I have long been concerned about the stacks that will be popping up all over the inner west when WestConnex is up & running.

If development goes ahead with the attitude of ‘business as usual’ & without doing as much as possible to lessen air pollution, we may find that our city becomes a toxic place to live with weather reports of windy conditions being greeted with joy.  Unfortunately, all that air pollution has to go somewhere, even if it is blown away from our sky.



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