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I’ve been more interested in Air pollution over the last year or so, It originally spiked my curiosity by complete chance from a TEDtalk video about indoor air quality and nasa research into plants that if you where sealed in a bottle, these plants could keep you alive, the video is here

I’ll begin by explaining the process of starting with the UK as a whole, then Oxford (btw we arent doing so good) and how i believe Pedal & Post, our new pedal powered courier service could really help.

What has spiked my curiosity over the last few months was the UK wide Air pollution that hit the news, As far as i’m aware that was an unfortunate combination of various pollutions coming together at once that swept europe, Although it doesn’t look or sound good.

This is an article on it i found a while ago

Now i’m not concerned by national problems, I don’t believe i can make a big difference to that but what i can do is think local, so over the last few weeks I’ve been looking at Oxfordshires data and its been fascinating.

STARTING RESEARCH, NATIONAL / UK

I started searching by using DEFRA (Department for environmental food & Rural affairs) they have monitors nationally that provide hourly data and 2 in Oxford. They rate the air quality between 1-10 (1 being low and 10 being high) upon looking at Oxford we are at a 3, which is low and not to much of a concern. I began to dig further as i want to see monthly/yearly results.

This is a link to the targets for the UK as a whole.

http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/assets/documents/reports/aqeg/nd-summary.pdf

LOCAL SOURCES, OXFORD

I’ve then come across the 2012 annual report for Oxford, they have 2 kinds of monitors, one is the same as DEFRA and the others are diffusion tubes, these are located at 48 sites all over Oxford.

This is an extract that made me think twice about the air in Oxford

“The findings of the report support the 2012 USA report’s conclusions in relation to the failure to meet the annual mean and hourly air quality objectives in Oxford for Nitrogen Dioxide.”

In a nutshell, the report made in 2012, Oxford failed its objectives and exceeded our 40 ug/m3 limit and in some locations it exceeded 60ug/m3. Oxford isn’t alone and it’s a serious issue that needs addressing. London is worse reaching points of over 100 as there’s a comparison between Marylebone in there too.

OXFORDS AIR QUALITY PLAN, REDUCE NO2

Oxford has had to declair an AQMA (air quality management area) in response to failing its objectives begining in 2010. I’ve found there action plan online and have been reading it across this evening, they are really doing some pretty good stuff. They have located the main source of NO2 production, transport via road’s accounts for 42% and “other travel” close behind at 33% (which i assume is trains.planes?)

taking this they have divided up the types of transport within that 42%

  • Coach’s/buses account for 64%
  • Heavy/light goods vehicles account for 18%
  • Cars account for 15%
  • Taxi’s account for 3%

They have targeted buses with various means, reducing the number, making them environmentally friendly via hybrid technology, also moving bus stops, 20mph zones, cross tickets between bus services reducing amount of buses needed, introducing the Low emission zone and recently the tour buses have been converted too as many people may have seen. Heavy/ light goods vehicles are a major issue in Oxford, i’ll go onto why i want to combat this aspect later, cars are being reduced via the park and ride system and taxi’s are generally hybrid cars nowadays but it would be good to see them included in the LEZ

An assessment made has shown (although i cant find it online) that all of these measures have helped reduce, but its not good enough yet and is still above the 40ug/m2 objective.

Also different roads have a different mix of traffic, st aldates is 90% buses for example, whereby parks road is dominated by heavy/ light goods vehicles at 65% and george street is one of the biggest problems with a combination of both.

PEDAL & POST

Pedal & Post will be able to begin to reduce the 18% of NO2 produced by heavy/light goos vehicles and take delivery’s outside the city centre, we then drop off  the “Last mile” using our 0 emission bikes (these can carry pallets loads upto 250kg), this should help reduce the pollution within the city centre, reduce congestion and parking problems (especially at peak times) whilst also being able to continue operating whilst special events take place, such as the st giles fair, mayday etc and any building work/ construction providing a reliable, consitence  service with no interuptions.

I believe this is one of the best times to pilot this project and the more research we do, the more confident we are that we can help benefit Oxford.

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