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  • Nearly 9 in 10 Londoners want cars to give way to bikes, buses and walking to tackle urban air pollution

    A YouGov poll of residents in London reveals overwhelming support for measures to protect health by tackling air pollution emissions from cars. Nearly nine in ten Londoners (86%) are in favour of measures to reduce car emissions and use, with just 3% rejecting action. A similarly high level of support is observed 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 (as one of the measure to control air pollution) by creating more room for pedestrians is supported by 76% of respondents (just 7% opposed). Additional cycle lanes are supported by 66% (17% against), with more support in younger age groups, and additional bus lanes are supported by 59% (15% against). The introduction of Zero Emission Zones that ban polluting cars from cities receives support from 75% of respondents with opposition from just 7%.

    Greg Archer, UK Director of Transport & Environment said, “Londoners have appreciated the cleaner air and quieter streets during the lockdown and recognise London with fewer cars is a better place to live. 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 55% say they will start using public transport again if sufficient hygiene measures are taken. 20% 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. In total 27% say their interest has increased, 14% saying “increased a little”, while a further 13% say “increased a lot”.

    Greg Archer added, “The Coronavirus tragedy has also shown breathing choking car fumes is not inevitable in London. 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, we need the Ultralow Emissions Zone extended and further investment to restrict car use and support cleaner transport.

    Responding to the survey The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “My bold air quality policies, including the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone, have delivered dramatic improvements that have seen toxic air cut by a third in our city. As we start to recover from the coronavirus lockdown, which saw further gains in air quality, our challenge will be to eradicate air pollution permanently. We must build on the success of policies such as ULEZ and our ambitious new Streetspace plan for increasing walking and cycling, and take further steps including expanding the ULEZ to inner London. We don’t want to replace one public health emergency with another which will have detrimental effects on people’s health, the NHS and our economy.

    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.

    [1]“Cities must take effective measures to protect citizens from air pollution, even if this requires reallocating public space to walking, cycling and public transport.”