Motorised road traffic is the main source of air pollution in London. I’m working to clean London's air, including by toughening the emissions standards for heavier vehicles within the Low Emission Zone (LEZ), expanding the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), cleaning up our bus fleet and taxis, and encouraging Londoners to switch to walking, cycling and public transport wherever possible.
As part of the emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic I’m also implementing Streetspace for London, to allow Londoners to travel safely and help avoid a car-based recovery which would lead to higher levels of air pollution. Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) are a key part of Streetspace for London and will help encourage Londoners to switch car trips for walking, cycling and public transport where possible. By reducing traffic on London’s streets, LTNs, alongside other measures, can play an important role in improving air quality and therefore Londoners’ health.
TfL’s recently published Travel In London report shows how travel habits have changed during the pandemic, with the proportion of journeys made by walking and cycling increasing significantly, from 29% between January and March 2020 to an estimated 46% between April and June 2020. Walking and cycling has remained well above previous levels even as restrictions eased and people began to return to public transport, with it accounting for an estimated 37% of all journeys between July and September.
However, the proportion of journeys made by private transport also increased a worrying amount, from 38% between January and March 2020, to 45% between March and June 2020. It is my strong belief that without my Streetspace programme and LTNs, this growth in private transport would have been even higher, with negative consequences for air quality and the health of Londoners.