Survey results: Best solution for cities to reduce air pollution

09 November 2018

9 November 2018

A number of German cities will be instigating driving bans on diesel vehicles during 2019, with Cologne and Bonn the latest. Also, London will also be banning high-polluting cars from one street as part of a trial next year.

However, Germany’s Government is trying to prevent further city bans, and recently announced a potential deal whereby carmakers pay €3,000 towards hardware retrofitting to reduce harmful emissions. There are several options to reduce air pollution in cities, yet diesel cars are the main target for authorities under pressure to do something about the issue immediately.

Therefore, Autovista Group wanted to know which option cities could look at to cut out air pollution most effectively. Alongside the diesel ban, we presented several options, all of which could help the situation.

The winner of our latest survey, with 33% of the vote, was the need for authorities to invest in ultra-low emission public transport. Many feel that the number of buses and taxies running around city streets does more harm, indeed, in March 2017, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) in the UK suggested that upgrading London’s full fleet of buses to the latest emissions standards would reduce NOx pollution by 75%. There are around 10,000 buses in London, so replacing them would be a mammoth task. Meanwhile, the London Electric Vehicle Company is rolling out its electric black cabs in the city and plans to introduce them to other cities across Europe.

In second, with 20% of votes, was congestion charging, which would help to stop drivers from entering cities, with funds raised going towards projects and upkeep of roads and infrastructure. It is estimated that London’s charge, introduced in 2003, has reduced traffic in the UK capital by 25%. Applying to petrol and diesel vehicles, together with vans and lorries, the charge can help to reduce both NOx and CO2 in cities.

Third, with 17% of respondents choosing the option was the possibility of amending city infrastructure, with the removal of traffic lights and roundabouts, creating more free-flowing traffic. With vehicles stuck in queues and engines left running, the levels of pollutants increases. Should congestion be reduced, journey times would be removed and so too would the time emissions are produced by vehicles.

In fourth with 12% was the introduction of driving bans on both petrol and diesel engines, rather than limiting such measures to just diesel vehicles (an option that came in sixth with 5% of the vote). This would remove both high levels of NOx and CO2 from city roads, and is a fairer option than simply penalising diesel drivers. As buyers are put off from the technology, they are increasingly moving to petrol vehicles, causing CO2 levels to rise.

In fifth, garnering 10% of the vote, was the ′other’ section. Responses from this include reducing the driving population and increasing incentives to encourage scooter and cycle use on busy roads. Others suggested that all vehicles, including hybrids and buses, should be banned.

Finally, with 3% of the vote, came the option to fine drivers for leaving engines running, a move that the city of London is looking to introduce. Respondents felt that this was impractical and would not encourage drivers to change habits.