MP joins pupils walking for clean air

Bell Ribeiro-Addy with Richard Atkins pupils

Local MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy joined pupils of Richard Atkins primary on New Park Road off Brixton Hill on Clean Air Day today (8 October) to celebrate progress made to improve air quality and to encourage more local young people to walk to school.

And in Walk to School Week London mayor Sadiq Khan said that new data produced by Imperial College for Transport for London showed a 97% decrease in the number of London schools in areas with illegal levels of deadly NO2 pollution.

Imperial’s Dr Gary Fuller said dirty air had had an intolerable effect on Londoners for far too long, but since 2016 he had seen a dramatic improvement in air quality in the capital.

“The changes in nitrogen dioxide in central London and along main bus routes before Covid-19 were some of the fastest that we’ve ever measured,” he said.

Mayor Khan said the reduction was the result of “bold moves” like the ultra low emission zone (ULEZ).

Expanding ULEZ – a £12.50 daily charge on polluting vehicles – out to the North and South Circular Roads, and so including central Brixton, next year will drive more progress, he said.

However, Lambeth is among six inner London boroughs where there are still schools suffering illegal levels of air pollution.

adults and children line-up
Bell Ribeiro-Addy with Richard Atkins pupils and parents

Walk to School Week has been organised for 20 years by the charity Living Streets which encourages families to try healthier and greener ways to get to school.

It also campaigns for changes to the Highway Code to put people before cars and for a ban on pavement parking.

Living Streets’ chief executive Mary Creagh said: “Walking to school is a fun and easy way for families to get active.

“We’re thrilled that local pupils are joining thousands of children nationwide to swap the school run for a school walk. We need safer streets so more families have confidence to walk to school.”

Bell Ribeiro-Addy, MP for Streatham, said Walk to School Week gives children the chance to enjoy fresh air and exercise, reducing congestion, improving road safety and contributing to cleaner air around schools.

 “We’ve seen a marked improvement in air pollution in London in recent times but there’s still a long way to go to make our neighbourhoods healthier,” she said.