Why, after over four-and-a-half decades of dramatically declining vehicle emissions (typically having fallen by some 70%; see Fig.1 below ), 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 (16km/h).
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 (50km/h) or above (see Fig.2 below).
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 (see: https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/) 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.
- Emissions time-series figure reproduced with permission from a Local Transport Today article authored by Mr. P. Dobson (LTT726; 07-20/07/2017, p.20).
- London average traffic speed was recently reported to be 11mph (roughly 18km/h). See e.g., http://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/news/804876.london_cars_move_no_faster_than_chickens/
- See e.g., “London Exhaust Emissions Study – Developing a test programme and analysis of emissions data from passenger cars in London”, Transport for London.