Council announces cycle lane network and ULEZ plan in bid to cut air pollution

By Charlotte Lillywhite, Local Democracy Reporter

A council is creating a network of cycle lanes, scrapping a town centre’s one-way system and helping residents with the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to improve air quality.

Wandsworth council has published its new air quality action plan 2023 to 2028, which sets out how it will improve transport, walking and cycling in the borough, along with other actions, to clean up its air.

The plan outlines how the authority will meet recommendations put forward by Wandsworth Citizens’ Assembly on air quality – a group of 54 randomly-chosen residents who met earlier this year to discuss air quality and hear from community groups and experts.

The group presented their final report to the council in June, with recommendations on what action could be taken in Wandsworth to improve air quality and reduce its impact on health.

The council said air pollution has been falling in Wandsworth but the plan sets new targets based on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) definitions of dangerous levels of air pollution, which go beyond current UK targets. The authority added the plan reflects the growing need to respond to the climate emergency and protect residents’ health, particularly those who are most vulnerable.

The plan includes creating a new core cycle network of signed routes across the borough by upgrading existing cycle superhighways, creating new cycleway routes and installing 1,390 cycle parking spaces in 232 bike hangars. The plan says the council will ensure 60 per cent of residents live within 400 metres of the cycle network by 2030.

The council also plans to provide free cycle training for up to 2,000 children and adults every year, plant 300 new trees every year on streets and improve the energy efficiency of council homes and buildings.

Other actions in the plan include replacing the council’s existing vehicles with low and zero-emission vehicles, supporting the ULEZ expansion with a £1million fund to help residents give up non-compliant vehicles through £1,000 grants, carrying out enforcement action on engine idling where practical and rolling out an awareness campaign on air quality and climate.

Another goal in the plan is removing Wandsworth town centre’s one-way system.

The proposals from Transport for London (TfL) would involve rerouting the A3 and A205 South Circular to the north of the town centre and restricting the central section of Wandsworth High Street and Garratt Lane to buses and cyclists.

The plan adds: “Not all the actions are within the power of the council, and some require significant changes in regulation and investment and efforts from all tiers of government. The action we can take, we will, and this will reflect the needs of the borough. Those we can’t deliver we will provide a pathway to delivery and start this journey.”

Labour councillor Judi Gasser, cabinet member for environment, said: “Climate change and poor air quality affect us all, and we all need to be involved in finding solutions.

“The Citizens’ Assembly has ensured the people of Wandsworth have a direct say in what happens in their borough, and is part of a determination on the part of this administration to truly listen to local people and give them the power to participate in decision making.”

A group of residents, known as air quality ambassadors, will also support the delivery of the plan – including monitoring progress and providing feedback for the rest of the borough.

Pictured top: Cyclists use a cycle lane in Wandsworth town (Picture: TfL)

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