Walkable London to Combat Air Pollution

Walking Action Plan

Bicycle Lanes London UK

In an effort to lower the rate of deaths due to air pollution and lack of physical exercise, the mayor of London in the UK, Sadiq Khan, has launched a massive Walking Action Plan to encourage London’s more than eight million residents to get out and walk more, cycle more and use public transportation. The mayor recently contracted asthma due to polluted air and as he is also a parent, he is concerned about the safety and health  of children. According to a study in 2015, by researchers at King’s College, 9,500 Londoners die every year from prolonged exposure to air pollution, mainly long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5). The final report was published on July 15, 2015.

The Greater London Authority

Research by the Greater London Authority has shown that if every Londoner walked or cycled for 20 minutes a day, it would save Britain’s public health service about 1.7 billion pounds over the next 25 years for medical treatment for diseases linked to air pollution.


The new plan will be more pedestrian-friendly with wider pedestrian crossings, better designed streets, better traffic and street signs and maps.

Goal to Raise Rate of Walking, Cycling and Using Public Transportation to 80%

The plan will, hopefully, raise the amount of walkers, cyclists and those that ride public transportation to 80% of the population of London. As motor vehicles are the main cause of air pollution, the world’s first and only Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman believes that the plan will make it easier for Londoners to leave their cars at home and walk. In this case, there will be less air pollution, and this problem has to be dealt with now, as London’s population continues to grow and is projected to reach 10.8 million by 2041.

School Children

The plan includes doubling the number of Gold accredited STARS schools which support healthy walking routes to school. Car-free days, limited road closures, as well as 20 mph speed limits around schools should make it safer for children to walk to school.

Ultra-Low Emission Zone

The world’s first special ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) has been established and vehicles that do not meet emission standards will be charged daily for entering this part of central London. The main targets will be vehicles using diesel fuel, as these are the most polluting. Licenses will no longer be issued to taxis using diesel fuel. London busses are all being overhauled.

Areas of Polluted Air are Home to 92% of the World’s People

According to the 2016 report of the World Health Organization (WHO), 92% of the world’s population live in areas of dangerously polluted air. According to the American Lung Association, more than 4 in 10 people (41%) in the United States live in counties that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution.

Health Dangers of Air Pollution

While it is common knowledge that air pollution causes cardiovascular and all kinds of lung and breathing problems, new studies implicate polluted air for the rising diabetes epidemic, for chronic and last stage kidney disease and for dementia. Especially chilling, was the study by researchers at the University of Montana, who found beginning Alzheimer’s hall marks in the brain stems of infants under one year old in heavily air polluted Mexico City.

Short or Long-Term Skilled Nursing and Rehab Care

When looking for a short or long-term skilled nursing and rehab care facility for your loved one you should try to find one that has relatively clean air, as clean air can go a long way to aid rehabilitation.

Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, NY

The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York, is skilled nursing and rehab care at its best and also has a respiratory wellness program.

The city of Syracuse and Odondaga County tied for first place by the American Lung Association  for being the cleanest American city for 24-hour air particle pollution and ranked 14 out of the top 25 cleanest US cities for year-long particle pollution. Particle pollution consists of soot, ash, diesel exhaust, chemicals, metals and aerosols. Syracuse has a B rating for ozone air pollution (out of A to F).


It is to be hoped that other cities with high air pollution will follow London’s example and do more to encourage walking, cycling and using public transportation. The end result will be better health. It is shocking that 1 in 4 Americans live in places with air that is considered to be too dangerous to breathe and polluted air has now been linked to a higher rate of heart and lung diseases, diabetes, chronic and end state kidney disease, strokes and Alzheimer’s.


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