Our Streets of Shame
Our round up of Scotland's most polluted streets shows more action on transport is needed....
Air pollution causes over 2,500 early deaths in Scotland every year. Our vision is for clean and fair transport systems, where public transport, walking, and cycling are put on an equal footing with cars.
We have 38 official Pollution Zones across Scotland’s towns and cities where air quality levels are failing safety standards. Air pollution causes cancer and reduces our life expectancy. It can damage our lungs and blood, causes heart failure, exacerbates asthma, and has recently been linked with dementia, diabetes, and obesity. It’s especially harmful to children, the elderly, and people living in poverty or made vulnerable from other health conditions.
Traffic is the dominant cause of air pollution. That’s why we want to see clean and fair transport systems in Scotland. We’re working to urgently shift the balance of transport policy and spending towards clean public transport, cycling and walking. Not only will this mean cleaner air, but it will also mean less climate emissions from the transport sector, and a better transport system for all.
Our research reveals the country’s most polluted streets and confirms that air pollution remains a public health crisis choking Scotland.
We analysed official 2019 data for two toxic pollutants – Nitrogen Dioxide and Particulate Matter – to show recorded pollution levels continued to break Scottish and European air quality standards across four cities.
Air pollution can have a catastrophic impact on children. It can affect their ability to learn in school, cause and worsen asthma, and stunt the growth of young lungs.
Our vision is for Scottish streets to be free from polluting traffic: places where children can walk to school without breathing dirty air. We want people to feel able to cycle and walk where they please, whilst having access to affordable, clean public transport.
But we can’t do this without your help. Be part of the solution, by making a donation today.
Low Emission Zones (LEZs) are areas in town or city centres where the most polluting vehicles are banned from entering. They are one of the most effective ways to protect vulnerable people from dirty air and exist in over 200 cities across Europe. Glasgow is the location of Scotland’s first LEZ, introduced at the end of 2018. Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen are on course to implement LEZs this year. We’re trying to make sure these LEZs are genuinely effective in improving air quality.
Scotland should be a place where everyone has access to excellent cycling and walking paths. Travelling by walking and cycling means reduced pollution and carbon emissions, and brings benefits for our physical and mental health. Currently only 1% of all trips in Scotland are made by bicycle, compared to 66% by car. In the Netherlands, 27% of journeys are made on two wheels.
We know that good quality infrastructure makes all the difference to people’s travel choices. That’s why we want the Scottish Government and all local authorities to spend 10% of their transport budgets on walking and cycling infrastructure. We are members of We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote, a diverse umbrella organisation made up of health and environmental organisations working together on active travel.
We want to see buses across Scotland work for the many who either do not have access to a car or want to make an environmental choice to leave their car at home. We want to see good bus services in rural and urban areas, cheap fares, reliable services, and smart ticketing. Buses are part of the solution to air pollution, with one full double decker bus taking up to 75 cars off the road. We are campaigning to make sure local councils have the power to own bus companies and to operate franchises over bus networks. These powers would enable bus services to be run in the public interest.