Gazette letters: Toxic air, unhealthy road closures and 277 bus

Electric bike fans Ching and Alex chat with Simon from Cycle Islington about his plans to ride a bam

Electric bike fans Ching and Alex chat with Simon from Cycle Islington about his plans to ride a bamboo bike from Islington to Norways Arctic Circle. Picture: NICOLA BAIRD - Credit: Nicola Baird

I joined Cycle Islington’s 12km bike around Islington the other Saturday, writes Nicola Baird, Islington Green.

Starting at Freightliners Farm the route included back streets, cycle lanes and the Parkland Walk. It also crossed two new cycling routes (Tottenham to Camden Route 2 and Quiet Way 10) and included a cake stop in King's Cross. Puffing up Tufnell Park hill offered an excuse to open the chocolate eggs stockpiled for Easter. It felt like a healthy activity too.

In fact, learning to breathe calmly - smell the soup, cool the soup - is allegedly the key to wellbeing.

The hitch is that the air we breathe is messed up by the microscopic particles released in diesel exhaust.

Over the past three years 4,000 Londoners (including 1,000 children) have needed emergency hospital treatment after their breathing disorders were made worse by the capital's toxic air.

The Royal College of Nursing calls: "The level of pollution in London a public health emergency. Toxic air has been linked to thousands of deaths from cancer, heart disease as well as asthma and strokes." Shockingly, Doctors against Sesel have found that air pollution affects the lung size of a foetus.

This health emergency is why cleaning up our air has become such an important part of town planning.

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We need to move around our neighbourhoods in ways that do not involve burning fossil fuel. Cleaner travel - by foot, bikes, public transport etc - is also a way of tackling climate change. At least that's something positive we old folk can do for the climate strike students who were out again on Friday.

Monday (April 8) saw the launch of the mayor's Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez). Now you can only drive a diesel vehicle into central London (the same as the Congestion Charging Zone) if you are also willing to pay over a tenner a day for the privilege.

From October 2021 the Ulez will cover much more of London, including Islington.

This is an exciting move in the challenge to fix climate change.

Just as the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is launching to improve air quality for school children in central London, writes Sarah Proulx Calfee, parent and PTA member of Newington Green Primary School...

Hackney Council is voting on road closures on April 29 that, should they go ahead, will increase traffic on the very narrow Matthias Road, which not only passes Newington Green Primary but also The Factory Children's Centre and Minik Kardes Community Nursery.

Hackney's traffic modelling report predicts a 44 per cent westbound increase in Matthias Road - up from 2,912 vehicles a day to 4,202 - and a 36pc increase eastbound - up from 3,816 a day to 5,194. The PTA of Newington Green Primary are deeply concerned about this increase in traffic, already extreme during the morning school run, which will worsen air quality and create higher health risks for our children - this includes life-limiting illnesses like asthma and the stunting of lung development.

On April 26 at 3.40 pm, the PTA and families from Newington Green will march with other affected schools, Grasmere Primary, St Mary's Primary and William Patten Primary, asking Hackney to "press pause" on road closures until 2021 when the ULEZ will come into effect in the Stoke Newington area. Anyone interested in joining the march is welcome.

I refer to your article in the Gazette regarding bus route 277, writes Peter Bridges, Essex Road, Islington.

I support the protests made by Simon McVicker and others. One further suggestion I made was:

At present there are five routes that travel down Essex Road from the Balls Pond Road junction. Two of these are the 38 and 56, which travel from the east along Balls Pond Road and then turn south onto Essex Road. They are extremely frequent and often arrive bunched up with comparatively few passengers. My experience is that few passengers get on or off along Essex Road and that the major stop is at The Angel for the Underground station and shops.

My suggestion is that one of these routes does not turn at Essex Road but continues along St Paul's Road to Highbury Corner and then via Upper Street to the Angel before picking up its former route. Apart from replicating the 277 journey to Highbury Corner, I suspect many passengers would get off at Highbury Corner rather than use Angel station. There would still be four routes travelling down Essex Road.[An excellent idea! - ed]

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