Design streets and developments to tackle pollution, NICE says


Speed bumps should be redesigned to prevent sharp braking and cycle routes moved from highly polluted roads to quieter streets, health experts have advised. 

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published draft guidance on air pollution, outdoor air quality and health,  aimed at local authority staff working in transport, planning, local air quality management, and public health, as well as elected members.

Humps and bumps should minimise sharp deceleration and acceleration

It makes recommendations in respect of planning, Clean Air Zones (CAZs), reducing emissions from public sector transport services and vehicle fleets, smooth driving and speed reduction, and cycle routes.

Professor Paul Lincoln, chief executive of UK health forum and NICE guideline committee chair said: ‘Traffic-related air pollution is a major risk to the publics’ health and contributes to health inequalities.

‘The NICE guidance sets out a strategic range of evidence based practical measures to encourage low or zero emissions transport. This is very timely given the imperative to meet EU and national air quality standards.’

On traffic management, the document invites authorities to consider 20 mph zones in residential areas to help encourage smooth traffic flow, adding: ‘Where physical measures are needed to reduce speed, such as humps and bumps, ensure they are designed to minimise sharp decelerations and consequent accelerations.’

Transport planners should avoid siting cycle routes on highly polluted roads and should ideally use off-road routes or quiet streets, the draft guidance advises.

The guidance recommends taking air quality issues into account in Local Plans for new development, including siting buildings away from busy roads, and considering ways to mitigate air pollution if a site is likely to generate significant motorised traffic.

It also encourages councils in areas outside those targeted by the national air quality plan to consider introducing CAZs and progressive targets to reduce pollutant levels below EU limits.

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