During the first national lockdown in spring 2020, the streets of our towns and cities were almost deserted leading to a widely reported improvement in air quality standards.
However, lockdown 3.0, the UK’s latest series of national restrictions that started in January 2021, saw traffic levels across the UK’s major cities, including Manchester, remain at more than 80% of the pre-COVID-19 levels according to our latest data.
These latest findings have led to real concerns that, as restrictions continue to ease in the coming months, traffic levels may actually surge ahead of pre-lockdown levels. This is a particular concern as many people are opting to use their car ahead of public transport when travelling.
It is no secret that emissions from road traffic have the greatest single impact on our air quality so for the long-term health of the nation we must do more to reduce these rising pollution levels.
So, with children now back at school, and roads across the country already congested, we need to ask: “What toxic pollutants are children living in major towns and cities currently being exposed to?”
The power of School Street Zones
To help improve the air quality around schools, schemes like ‘School Street Zones’ are increasingly being introduced. This ensures the immediate areas outside education settings are kept clear of traffic during the busy ‘drop-off’ and ‘pick-up’ times. The zones are already not only improving air quality but also significantly advancing road safety in the streets around a school – helping promote active travel choices for parents and their children.
School Street Zones are a designated area of typically one road with a camera at the start and end of the zone, but multiple roads can be covered by the installation of more cameras. Each camera is able to monitor vehicles as they enter the area during specified periods and Siemens Mobility has now deployed this solution across a number of local authorities with the company’s automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras at the heart of the scheme.
Manchester Evening News, 16 April 2021