Councils urged to redesign speed bumps to cut pollution

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Councils urged to redesign speed bumps to cut pollution

Local authorities should consider lower speed limits, clean air zones and even redesign speed bumps in a bid to reduce air pollution, health experts say.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said “smooth” driving would cut air pollution, linked to 25,000 deaths a year in England.

But pollution experts said the measures will only make small improvements.

Prof Ian Colbeck, of the University of Essex, said the plans pressured local government at a time of budget cuts.

The health advisory body”s guidance is now out for consultation.

Air pollution disproportionately affects people living in deprived and urban areas, especially children and the elderly.

Soot and gas

Figures show that motor vehicle traffic reached a record high in 2016, with 320 billion vehicle miles travelled on Great Britain”s roads – a 1.4% increase on last year.

NICE says tiny specks of soot from vehicle exhaust, brake linings and tyres, as well as nitrogen dioxide gas, damage people”s health by increasing the risk of cancer and respiratory and heart diseases.

As a result, it is urging local authorities to do more to tackle air pollution.

Its recommendations include:

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The report says a number of measures would “act cumulatively to produce significant change”

It also suggests avoiding putting cycle lanes on highly polluted roads and considering the use of trees to screen cyclists from motor vehicles – but it warns that this should not be at the expense of street ventilation, which helps the air pollution to disperse.

The guidance says that it would be advisable to adopt a number of measures – rather than just one – because this would be more likely “to act cumulatively to produce significant change”.

“Every little helps”

Prof Richard Skeffington, from the department of geography and environmental science at the University of Reading, said there was little that was new or radical in the recommendations and many seemed “mostly common sense”.

He added that there was no overall assessment of the likely effects of the proposals on air quality.

“The message of the report seems to me to be “every little helps – possibly”.

“The report does reject some ideas, such as street washing, but generally the actions proposed seem likely to make small incremental improvements at best.”