A project supported by the Mayor of London aims to encourage pedestrians in the Bankside area of the capital to use walking routes that have cleaner air, to reduce their exposure to air pollution.
The Clean Air Mini Neighbourhood project, which is a collaboration between the Better Bankside Business Improvement District (BID) in south London and Kings College London, will combine air quality measurements and modelling using pedestrian footfall data.
The project is centered on driving behaviour change and highlighting the significant reduction in pollution exposure a simple switch to a daily commuting route can provide, the organisers say.
The Mayor of London is funding the Clean Air Mini Neighbourhood with 36,500 through the London Air Quality Fund.
As part of the project, the levels of pollutants present have been recorded across main and back streets of the Bankside area of Southwark, with marked differences between the two.
According to the project partners, walking just one road back from a busy main road can halve the pollution pedestrians are exposed to, but Better Bankside has combined this health advice with footfall data to more accurately quantify the impact of creating low exposure routes.
Pedestrians walking along the quieter Keppel Row and America Street would be exposed to around 20-24% less pollution than those on the busier Southwark Street and Southwark Bridge Road, it is claimed.
Five cameras have been positioned in the area chosen for the study to record pedestrians passing each way. Records currently show daily average footfall of 2,710 along Southwark Street compared to just 363 along Keppel Row, taken between 1 August and 1 December 2017.
Numbers will be monitored throughout the campaign. Kings College London is working with the project team to evaluate how successful the project is in reducing peoples exposure to air pollution.
Kings College London and Better Bankside will continue to monitor footfall along the streets highlighted to assess whether residents and local workers have heeded advice and made changes to their daily commutes or lunch runs.
Better Bankside aims to increase the number of people using the back streets during its CAMN campaign by implementing a number of installations to encourage people to use more tranquil routes.
Andrew Grieve, senior air quality analyst at Kings College London, said: Creating low pollution routes for cyclists and pedestrians is a great way of helping to reduce the publics exposure to pollution. The new method developed in this study allows us to create a more accurate picture of where exposure is occurring and so target interventions more effectively.
Donald Hyslop, chair of Better Bankside, said: Thousands of people pass through Bankside every day and we can see from our initial footfall statistics that the vast majority are taking the easier, shorter, but more polluted routes. We hope our project will have a positive impact on Bankside workers, visitors and residents, not only inspiring habit change to combat the negative effects of pollution exposure but encouraging people to explore lesser known hidden gems in the streets of Bankside.