Pollutionwatch: time to rethink London’s red routes

It is 30 years because the designation of London’s red routes, the 320-mile community that carries a third of the city’s traffic primarily by residential areas and alongside many schools. They embrace the South Circular, previous the household residence of Ella Kissi Deborah, whose air-pollution-induced bronchial asthma led to her dying in 2013.

According to Oliver Lord, a coverage lead on the Environmental Defense Fund, it’s time to “review, rebuild and repurpose the red routes, with bold traffic-reduction targets and new approaches for freight”.

The community contains a few of the UK’s most polluted roads which can be seemingly to be among the many final to meet authorized limits. Many of those, particularly these in interior and outer suburbs, skilled a worsening in traffic pollution between 2005 and 2016.

Major roads create noise and air air pollution. Although some metropolis centres will probably be restricting the most polluting vehicles from their central areas, much less is being carried out within the suburbs. Walk into the town centres of Glasgow, Leeds and Birmingham and also you encounter main roads that act like moats severing communities.

A 1994 Department for Transport report on new trunk roads concluded they led to elevated site visitors, somewhat than bettering congestion. Examples included London’s elevated Westway, which required the demolition of hundreds of houses however failed to cut back the site visitors beneath. Now 50 years previous, the UK’s longest elevated highway requires significant repairs.

In the US, freeways had been minimize by poor black and minority ethnic communities within the Fifties and 60s. But new federal funding might open alternatives to redress this by removing rather than rebuilding the ageing infrastructure. Freeway removal started within the US in Portland in 1974 with the deconstruction of Harbour Drive to create a riverside park. Other cities have adopted.

The choice to reroute as an alternative of rebuild the earthquake-damaged Cypress Freeway in West Oakland, California, eased the air pollution burden skilled by native communities and opened new areas for housing and the creation of parks.

Other examples embrace the unbuilding of a part of the Inner Loop in Rochester, New York, the removal of a 12-lane motorway in Utrecht, the Netherlands, to restore the canal that after surrounded the town centre, and the Cheonggyecheon River project in Seoul, South Korea; the place a multi-lane expressway was eliminated to reveal a buried river, making a green-transport hall and a spot to picnic and loosen up. These schemes might present a blueprint for our main city roads.

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