Clean Air Day this year highlights the role that personal transport has in reducing air quality locally. Tailpipe emissions from petrol and diesel-fuelled vehicles make an obvious contribution to particulates in the air, but a recent report also highlighted that particulates from tyre degradation also play a role. Electrification and the switch to EVs will not clean up our air to the extent that we need.
In the borough of Rugby we are fortunate that air quality is – on the whole – not too bad. We know this because Rugby Borough Council uses diffusion tubes to monitor air quality at various sites across the borough. There are a few sites near to main roads, mostly where adjacent buildings provide a tunnel effect, where air quality is worse, but even at these sites the general trend across the borough is that air quality is improving.
To make a real difference, however, we need to make different choices as individuals. With fuel prices at an all-time high even the AA is now suggesting that shorter journeys would be better made by bicycle or on foot, and this is the only sustainable solution to the air quality problem too. We simply need to walk and cycle more.
Rugby already benefits from some good walking and cycling routes. There are some gaps however, and more work needs to be done in order to make sure that all our communities feel safe when walking and cycling. The Park Connector network that Rugby Borough Council is promoting will help.
These traffic-free routes will create a network of accessible shared footpaths and cycling routes criss-crossing Rugby. Grant funding is helping the council make sure they are well-drained, and with bat friendly solar lighting these routes should be usable year-round.
Clean Air day – and the fine weather we are currently having – are the perfect excuse to get your bicycle out of the shed and explore one of these new car-free alternatives. It’ll do you, and the air that you breathe, the world of good.
PS: Here's a playlist for your walk.