Air pollution and health
By a resident of Westbury Crescent (Church Cowley)
“A court has ruled that dirty air made a material contribution to the death of an asthmatic 9-year-old girl in south London, in a significant decision marking the first time a person in the UK has had air pollution listed as part of the cause of death.” Read more HERE.
We all know that air pollution has been at unhealthy levels in Oxford for years. In November 2019, a public health expert at Oxford University Hospitals Trust revealed that roadside air pollution stunts the lung growth of children by approximately 14% in Oxford. So far, we haven’t managed to do anything much to reduce it.
For me, the three Cowley LTNs are about our health and the health of our planet – we can’t have the first without the second.
Oxford City Council, County Council and the Government have declared a climate emergency – this means we have to do things differently.
High levels of vehicle traffic in Oxford and in our residential neighbourhoods are bad for us. The continual noise of traffic is bad for our mental health, the air pollution is bad for our lungs, and our over-reliance on vehicles means that we are physically less active which leads to all sorts of health problems.
Many of the journeys we make in Oxford or locally are very short and many people could and would like to do them by walking and cycling but the heavy traffic makes it feel unpleasant and unsafe. If we make it safe and pleasant people will change the way they travel. They will walk and cycle more. Those that can’t will have easier journeys by bus or car.
I want everyone, especially young people, to be able to enjoy walking and cycling as I do – cycling to school as a teenager gave me great freedom and set me on a path to continue enjoying cycling my whole life. I delivered Bikeability cycle training in East Oxford primary schools for 5 years in 2005-10 and the children loved cycling – but the road environment was and remains unsuitable for such children and for most adults. Now we have a chance to make it work.
I hope we can all embrace this opportunity for each of us to make a difference – one journey at a time.