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  • 4 in 5 city residents want cars to give way to bikes, buses and walking to tackle urban air pollution

    A YouGov poll of residents in five UK cities reveals overwhelming support for measures to protect health by tackling air pollution emissions from cars. Four in five residents (81%) in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow are in favour of measures to reduce car emissions and use, with fewer than 1 in 10 (8%) rejecting action. A similarly high level of support is observed across all the cities, between men and women, and among different age and income groups.

    The survey, with supporting analysis by transport think-tank Transport & Environment, finds that reallocating road space to create more room for pedestrians as one of the measure to control air pollution is supported by 76% of respondents (just 8% opposed). Additional cycle lanes are supported by 63% (19% against), with more support in younger age groups, and additional bus lanes are supported by 59% (18% against). The introduction of Zero Emission Zones that ban polluting cars from cities receives support from 71% of respondents and opposition from just 12%.

    Greg Archer, UK Director of Transport & Environment said, “City residents have appreciated the cleaner air and quieter streets during the lockdown and recognise a city with fewer cars is better. The survey shows strong support for cities to ban polluting cars, speed up bus trips and provide safe routes to walk and cycle.

    The survey also finds that reluctance to use public transport, observed since the lockdown, will not persist if buses and trains are safe to use. Among those who say they used public transport before the pandemic, 20% say they will continue to use it regardless of the risk and 60% say they will start using public transport again if sufficient hygiene measures are taken.

    Only 16% say they will no longer use buses and trains due to the risk of contagion. The survey also finds that, since lockdown began, there has been a surge in interest to buy battery electric cars. Nearly one in five (19%) say their interest has “increased a little”, while a further 10% say their interest has “increased a lot”.

    Greg Archer added, “The Coronavirus tragedy has also shown breathing choking car fumes is not inevitable in cities. More people now want to walk, cycle and drive pollution-free cars, and – once buses and trains are safe – passengers will be happy to use them again. Public attitudes have changed and political leaders need to listen and act rather than running scared from a vocal minority of motorists, shopkeepers and taxi drivers who constantly reject the introduction of low emission zones and other measures to restrict car use.”


    Notes to editors

    The survey was conducted online by YouGov, using a sample of 1,000 adults in 5 cities in the UK. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14th – 19th May 2020. The figures have been weighted and are representative of Greater London, Greater Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Glasgow adults.