Bigger shift to walking and cycling needed to tackle pollution in Wanstead

Thank you to everyone who re-elected Jo Blackman, Daniel Morgan Thomas and myself as councillors for Wanstead Village in the recent election. It is indeed an honour.

Now, the time has come to look forward to what can be done to improve things over the next four years.

One of the most pressing issues must be air pollution. There has been lots in the media recently about the poor quality of the air in London.

Wanstead is no exception. To a degree we sit on a traffic island, with heavy vehicle usage along the A406, the M11 Link Road and Cambridge Park. There is also Woodford Avenue, Hermon Hill and increasingly Wanstead High Street filling up with polluting motor vehicles.

There are also accompanying concerns over road safety and speeding in the area

Moves have been made to cut pollution, such as the extension of the Ultra Low Emissions Zone. Also, the school streets schemes, where implemented, have helped cut traffic.

The use of electric cars seems to be accelerating, no doubt driven partly by the increasing cost of fuel.

The roll out of electric charging points by the council has also helped drive this change.

There does, though, need to be a modal shift in transport usage. A real change to more active travel.

The new cycle lanes down Blakehall, Lakehouse, Centre and Aldersbrook Roads are a great start to this revolution. These lanes link to similar facilities in the neighbouring boroughs. More will follow.

Wanstead is keen for more of such facilities, including cycle hangars and rings.

The opening up of Wanstead Park to cycling is another good advance in helping create safe cycle routes.

More needs to be done, especially through central Wanstead, but we are at least on our way.

Better routes for walking come alongside cycle improvements.

We need to be looking at more pedestrianisation, like other boroughs.

It is a long road to cleaner air and safer streets but not one that we can avoid advancing quickly along. Pollution is an invisible killer that needs tackling now. More active travel is a key part of the solution.

Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See paulfdonovan.blogspot.com

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