Redbridge scores 1.55 out of 10 on healthy streets scorecard - almost bottom of the class. We could and should do much better.

The number of deaths due to Covid (53,000) recently overtook the annual rate for deaths caused by air pollution annually (50,000).

Initially, under the first lockdown, there were fewer vehicles on the road and planes in the sky, resulting in a drop in pollution levels. However, this has now changed, with people encouraged to stay off public transport to avoid Covid, whilst the roads have filled with cars.

The cycling/walking infrastructures have failed to materialise, which when combined with spiralling pollution levels, is hardly going to encourage anyone to get out of their car.

The situation was nicely illustrated recently, walking along Cambridge Park and Blake Hall Roads in Wanstead - both gridlocked with cars and 90 per cent empty buses belching fumes. This is no way to live.

The London Mayor’s Transport Strategy points the way forward, with a modal shift from the car to cycling, walking and public transport as modes of travel. The aim is to get 80 per cent of travel on these active forms of transport by 2041.

The recently published Healthy Streets Scorecard gave an indication as to how London boroughs are doing in their efforts to reach these goals.

The scorecard looks at improving air quality and road safety, active travel and cutting CO2 emissions. The five indicators as to what councils are doing is most instructive. These look at the implementation of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTN), 20mph speed limits, Controlled Parking Zones, Physically Protected Cycle Lanes and School Provisions (like school streets).

All of these measures help encourage active travel, thereby making for a healthier population.

The performance of the boroughs is varied, from the City of London and Camden at the top with scores of 8.29 and 7.3 respectively out of 10 to Havering and Redbridge at the bottom with scores of 1.4 and 1.55. (Newham scored 5.24 and Waltham Forest 5.11).

There is much to be done in Redbridge. A number of the measures, such as Controlled Parking Zones, School Streets and 20mph speed limits are rolling out slowly. The Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and Physically Protected Cycle Lanes are on the way. What we really need is an acceleration of the work in all these areas. The money needs to be provided, often from the Government, and there needs to be buy in from local communities. Then maybe at last we can start to live in a cleaner, greener borough.

Failure to act here and nationally will see those air pollution death levels continue to orbit upward, long after Covid is a distant memory.

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Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See