Vicar’s hellish walk on the polluted Strand

King’s College study reveals harmful effects are ‘seven times worse’ for pedestrians than those who commute by bike

Friday, 13th April 2018 — By Tom Foot


Researchers found that walking along the Strand ‘added a significant exposure burden to the journey compared with cycling’

A VICAR’S lungs were blackened with seven times more harmful pollutants when he walked instead of cycled down the Strand to work, a report has found.

The anonymous clergymen took part in environmental research carried out by King’s College and the Northbank, the business improvement district (BID) for the Strand, Trafalgar Square and the Aldwych.

The BID monitored the “cumulative black carbon concentrations” on six volunteers over a week as they commuted into the West End, and compared the difference when they used different transport during a second week. The report said: “This volunteer is a vicar who lives in Guildford. His normal commute involves driving to Guildford station, Overground train to Waterloo and a walk or cycle over Waterloo Bridge.

“The journey comparison below shows a commute where the vicar walks from the church, along the Strand and over Waterloo Bridge to Waterloo then Overground train to Guildford.”

In the second journey, the vicar travels in from Guildford to Waterloo and then he cycles over Waterloo Bridge and along the Strand.”

The report added: “The results indicate that walking along the Strand added a significant exposure burden to the journey compared with cycling – an increase of seven times.”

The report said that cycling was often found to be the “lowest exposure mode of transport as it’s usually the quickest”.

It also advised a “more rigorous comparison” of the two journey options.

The study said that commuters into central London could reduce the risk of exposure to harmful air pollution by up to 90 per cent with simple tweaks to their journeys.

The biggest contrasts in this study were between Overground and Underground trains and one volunteer “reduced their exposure by 89 per cent by switching from Underground to Overground train”.

Andrew Grieve, air quality analyst at King’s College London, who conducted the research said: “This study shows that, while it is important for government to continue efforts to reduce pollution, there are small actions we can take in our daily routines to reduce our exposure.”

The area around the Strand and Aldwych is among the most polluted in the capital and the BID is working on promoting a “cleaner streets walk” day to activate these clean air routes.

Ruth Duston, chief executive of the BID, said: “We are seeking to introduce more walking and cycling routes and to encourage more sustainable and environmentally-friendly transport solutions.”

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