Why, after over four-and-a-half decades of dramatically declining vehicle emissions (typically having fallen by some 70%), do we have urban vehicle emissions hotspots that ostensibly require urgent remedial action?
Answer: The emissions hotspots are entirely the fault of successive central and local governments of various political complexions: incompetently enacted transport policy implemented by apparently even more incompetent urban transport planners. Decades of installing only intermittently-used bus-/ taxi-, and cycle-only lanes, pinch-points, asynchronous traffic-light phasing, speed ramps, 20mph zones, other speed limit reductions and private vehicle lane-subtraction schemes have choked average city-centre traffic speeds down to little over 10mph. At these low traffic speeds, NOx, NO2 and the other vehicle emissions ramp up precipitately to over four times those observed at steady, free-flow speeds of 30mph or above.
So what has been the cumulative effect of some two decades of this ill-conceived, social-engineering-inspired, anti-car, traffic hindering central and local government policy? Answer: To utterly negate over forty years of improvements in vehicle emissions abatement technology. Another “triumph” of knee-jerk policy implementation over superior technological solutions. If politicians are really committed to improving urban air quality – as opposed to merely looking to engineer yet another opportunity to financially exploit hard-pressed drivers, they will implement the five Action Plan Points below. If you are fed up with being used as local and central government’s tame cash-cow, write to your MP and demand that central and local government’s urban road transport policies be formulated around these key action points:
Firstly, reverse the pernicious traffic gating-, lane-subtraction-, public transport-, and cycle-prioritisation policies that have brought traffic speeds in our major cities down to a staccato mix of stationary and walking pace progress – with consequent completely avoidable adverse emissions and urban air quality effects.
In the short-term, invoke a more targeted pursuit of the worst transport sector polluters; getting the highest emissions (mainly delivery, public transport vehicles and diesel rail transport) remediated or scrapped and replaced.
Convince domestic heating and transport fuel manufacturers to alter their refining processes; further purifying their products, yielding cleaner-burning versions which produce lower concentrations of NO2, NOx, PM2.5s, PM10s and SOx.
If, as is being constantly preached to us, the future is electric, Government must facilitate the development of electric vehicles with an all-weather conditions range of at least 350 to 700 miles, and a recharging time comparable to that required to refill a modern, liquid-fuelled car. To be market-competitive, their performance capabilities will also need to be comparable to those typically achievable by modern petrol and diesel cars.
Government must also provide the infrastructure investment for all UK private dwellings – including apartment blocks – to have the facility to park off-road, and recharge at least two electric vehicles per household resident at that dwelling.
AND FINALLY: Write to the local Council Leader (in whatever is the town or city in which you live) and invite him – and his equally culpable transport “planners” – to stand down forthwith, and give way to scientifically-literate successors who know what they are doing.