Drive less, cycle more, breathe better

Date published: 28 October 2016

Manchester Friends of the Earth is encouraging people to write to the Interim Mayor, Tony Lloyd, calling for urgent action to improve air quality in Greater Manchester.

Air pollution in the UK harms our health and causes tens of thousands of premature deaths every year.

In Greater Manchester, it has been estimated that air pollution causes nearly 2,000 people to die prematurely each year. The air we inhale on the way to work, school and in our neighbourhoods has levels of pollution above EU limits.

Manchester Friends of the Earth believes that the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Mayor need to provide clear leadership on urgent actions to improve air quality by reducing single-occupancy car journeys, cleaning up bus engines, and providing an environment that enables and encourages people of all ages to walk and cycle.

To help people encourage Greater Manchester leaders to take more urgent action, the campaigners have highlighted key issues in a email action to Tony Lloyd, Interim Mayor.

The key demands are:

  • Implement Clean Air Zones in city and district centres.
  • Stop building day nurseries and schools near air pollution hotspots.
  • A comprehensive air quality monitoring network for all areas in Greater Manchester.
  • Establish a Greater Manchester Active Travel Fund for the development of high quality walking and cycling routes (minimum of £20 per person)
  • All new taxis and buses should be zero emission vehicles by 2018. The whole fleet should be zero emissions by 2025. 
  • Create a GM Clean Air Fund to support a public information campaign about the impacts of air pollution and how people and businesses can help reduce pollution.
  • Appoint a clean air champion to ensure urgent action on air quality.
  • Provide an integrated, affordable, frequent and convenient public transport system.

Catherine Thomson, clean air campaigner with the group, said: “We know that air pollution needs to be tackled, yet people often feel there is little they can do to influence this important issue. The air quality email action gives people a simple and effective way to let the Interim Mayor know they are concerned and that Greater Manchester leaders need to take urgent action.”

Enabling more people to choose sustainable travel options has to be a central focus for any strategy to improve air quality in Greater Manchester. Delivering a safe and attractive cycle network across the region is essential to enable more people to choose to cycle.

Manchester Friends of the Earth are inviting people to join them at their monthly Bike Friday cycle. Bike Friday provides a range of cycle rides into the city centre from various starting places around Greater Manchester and also works with companies and local authorities in Greater Manchester to promote cycling, improve cycle facilities and to encourage more people to continue cycling to school, work and for leisure all year round.

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