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London has the worst air quality in Britain, with pollution levels over the maximum government safety limit on 500 of its roads. Whole neighbourhoods have to live with constant traffic noise, while cyclists and pedestrians face extra danger from motorists speeding between traffic queues to vent their frustration at the surrounding chaos. Parents ferry their children by car because they feel it is too dangerous to walk or cycle on busy streets, while children's sedentary lifestyles are likely to cause health problems when they get older.
Yet just reducing levels of traffic is not enough. Cutting the number of vehicles on a road can lead to faster traffic speeds and more dangerous conditions for cyclists and pedestrians alike. There must be a programme of road space reallocation to go with traffic reduction, whereby more space is given over to pedestrian zones, cycle lanes and bus lanes. When the space freed up by traffic reduction is given over to sustainable forms of transport, then you have the beginnings of an attractive urban environment and improved quality of life for everyone.
1.'Gasping for the Millennium' (Friends of the Earth, 1999)