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Reclaiming Streets

Now that summer is finally here*, we’re all enjoying some much-deserved sunshine. But did you know that air quality in London is pretty bad in some places, and that it can really affect your health? Air pollution is particularly damaging for children, the elderly, and those who already have respiratory problems – like asthma.

One of the major pollutants is nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and unfortunately, more than half of Tower Hamlets’ monitoring sites show NO2levels beyond the legal limit, and over 60% of schools and colleges in Tower Hamlets are exposed to dangerous levels of this pollutant.

Reclaiming Streets is a local campaign aiming to reprioritise our streets towards people and away from traffic, to ensure that no-one is forced to breathe toxic air. The campaign was voted for by residents at a ‘Clean Air Café’ in September 2017, and has the following outcomes: roads as community spaces; roads as green spaces; safer and healthier transport; and clean air. The group decided to focus on St Paul’s Way, because it has lots of community facilities – a school, a community centre, a medical centre, but also high levels of traffic (much of it using SPW as a rat run onto the A12). They have recently put up six diffusion tubes to test levels of NO2on St Paul’s Way.

Reclaiming Streets would love more local residents to get involved – you can speak to the group (and find out about diffusion tubes results!) at the St Paul’s Way Festival on Saturday 23rdJune.

*Editorial can’t take any responsibility if summer turns out, in fact, not to be here.