Campaign for Better Transport

Transport is one of the main contributors to air pollution, with cars, vans and lorries the main culprits. Whilst poor air quality is now thankfully recognised as a major health problem, what has not been so widely recognised is that the roll-out and take-up of sustainable transport is one of the best ways of reducing the harmful effects of air pollution.

To help address this, as part of Better Transport Week – a week-long celebration of sustainable transport from 12 to 18 June – Campaign for Better Transport is launching a briefing on the effects of transport on our health and wellbeing to mark this year’s Clean Air Day.

yellow and black train in train station

The aim is to highlight just how important transport is to tackling air pollution and what Government, business and individuals can do to help make transport cleaner and greener. We know very clearly that investment in sustainable transport is good for the economy, good for the environment, and good for social cohesion, and now we know it is also good, indeed vital, for our health.

Fewer lorries, fewer cars, fewer vans on our roads. Greater use of buses, trams and trains. More journeys made on foot or on bicycle. More freight moved by rail and cargo bikes. This is the way forward to cleaner air and better health.

In order to help switch more journeys away from polluting modes of transport to more sustainable ones, the Government must invest more in public transport and active travel and promote these modes over the private car. Improving public transport in just six UK cities, could generate £115 million in healthcare cost savings alone. But its not just up to governments, there’s plenty we can all do to help make a difference.

Choosing to travel sustainably is one of the most important things we can do for our health. If we can switch just over one per cent (1.7%) of all car journeys to walking and cycling, it would prevent tens of thousands of early deaths from air pollution annually and deliver £2.58 billion in health benefits.

If everyone switched just two car journeys a month to bus instead, by 2050 this would result in 15.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide savings and £14.9 billion worth of cumulative health benefits. What’s clear is that transport and health are inextricably linked and that sustainable transport is key to tackling air pollution and to ensuring we can all breathe clean air, no matter where we live


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