Removing street-side parking could reduce air pollution

A report published today (March 18) by think tank Centre for London outlines how parking controls can play an important role in encouraging a shift towards more sustainable transport. 

83% of Londoners are concerned about air quality but according to Centre for London, there are some significant barriers preventing London from becoming a less car-reliant city. 

According to the report, car ownership has hardly moved in recent years, and the proportion of journeys made by walking, public transport or cycling hasn’t changed in the last three years. 

There are more than three million licensed vehicles in London, and 43% of these cars are parked on the streets, taking up an area 10 times the size of Hyde Park. 

The report argues that while Londoners who need to drive also need to park, better use of street space would benefit everyone, a survey conducted by the think tank revealed that Londoners want trees and green space to be prioritised on their streets over on-street residential parking.

Removing on-street parking provides an opportunity to repurpose land into green space that can improve the health and wellbeing of many Londoners by contributing to better air quality. 

The report also outlines how the growth of digital services such as Uber, Amazon and Deliveroo have negatively contributed to air pollution. 

Due to services such as these London has one of the worst traffic levels of all European cities, meaning that air pollution levels regularly exceed international limits.

The authors highlight that although a shift to eletric vehicles will be beneficial, electric vehicles still generate non-tailpipe pollution, and switching to electric vehicles does not deal with the problem of space. 

The authors state that boroughs can start by reviewing kerb space allocation with clear user hierarchy. 

A kerbside strategy could link parking management and transport policy together as well as balancing competing uses of the kerb, such as different transport modes, the parking of different vehicle types and other uses that benefit local residents and businesses.

The strategies could also include a commitment to reallocate a certain percentage of parking space every year to other high-priority uses, such as cycleways, EV charging, disabled bays, or green space. 

Joe Wills, senior researcher at Centre for London said: ‘Residential parking in the capital is under-priced, while Londoners prioritise green spaces and clutter-free pavements over on-street parking.

‘There will continue to be a place for private cars in the short and medium-term, but what we need now is action. The time is right to rethink the way councils approach parking and reclaim the kerb, accelerating London towards the greener, safer, a healthier city that will benefit us all.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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