AQC has published a report quantifying the air quality benefits of the new School Streets that were installed as part of the Mayor’s Streetspace for London programme. School Streets restrict vehicle access during drop-off and pick-up times. The study was commissioned by the Greater London Authority in association with the FIA Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
AQC, working with partners of the “Breathe London” project (Acoem Air Monitors, CERC and Prof. Roderic Jones of the University of Cambridge) carried out monitoring at 30 sites in Brent, Enfield and Lambeth over a period of 12 weeks. Sensors were installed adjacent to, and at the ends of, sections of road that were closed at certain times of the day on school days as part of the School Streets initiative. Comparator sites were also installed outside schools where no interventions were implemented.
The confounding effects of the COVID-related traffic restrictions and day-to-day changes in the weather have made it difficult to identify the precise effects of many of the individual interventions. However, simply because the air quality benefits could not be identified at some of the sites from the monitoring data does not mean they did not occur, and there must have been a reduction in emissions and concentrations on the affected roads during the periods of closure.
Nonetheless, at some sites, a clear benefit was identified. The comparison of concentration profiles at similar sites (typically one with a School Streets intervention and one without), has identified average reductions in nitric oxide (NO) concentrations of up to 8 µg/m3 (34%) during the morning intervention period, which equates to a reduction in the daily average (school day) concentration of approximately 5%. The resultant reduction in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) during the school drop-off period has been estimated as being up to 6 µg/m3 (23%). The morning intervention alone is thus expected to have reduced daily average NO2 by up to 0.4 µg/m3, or 2%. This demonstrates that School Streets can play a role in reducing peak exposure to pollution concentrations outside of schools.
The full report can be downloaded from the GLA website: https://www.london.gov.uk/WHAT-WE-DO/environment/environment-publications/school-streets-air-quality-study
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