What are Leeds City Council doing to reduce air pollution in the city?

All of us that live and work in Leeds have a responsibility for reducing air pollution in the city.

As your local authority and one of the city’s largest employers, Leeds City Council is no different. We know we need to improve air quality in the city and are committed to doing our bit to make a difference.

For example we are already;

  • Leading the way in transitioning our fleet of vehicles to ultra-low or zero emissions vehicles. Currently, the council have more low emissions vehicles than any other local authority in England with plans to further increase numbers over the next few years.
  • Investing in upgrading public transport and cycling infrastructure as part of our “Connecting Leeds” strategy to make it easier to leave the car at home. All three major bus companies (First Leeds, Arriva and Transdev) have backed the strategy and have committed to ensuring their vehicles meet the latest emissions standard by 2020. Each have already begun to phase in their new, less polluting vehicles. Two park and ride sites are already operating successfully in the city, one at Elland Road, that has been extended, and the other at Temple Green. The two sites have saved a total of over 350,000 car journeys into the city to date.
  • Encouraging drivers to switch to ultra-low emissions vehicles (ULEVs) by offering free parking for residents with ULEVs at all council car parks. We’re also supporting the development and roll out of a number of charge points across the city for electric vehicles.
  • Mitigating air pollution from stop-start driving by improving traffic flow through highways improvements across the city Stop-start driving increases the amount of air pollution your car puts out by up to 60% compared with driving at a steady pace.
    • Developing plans to pedestrianize more of the city centre. In partnership with WYCA, we’re developing ambitious plans to make Leeds city centre a more welcoming and less polluted space that is more easily accessible by public transport.
    • Working with partners and companies across the UK to bring innovative and new solutions to the city, such as;
    • Developing Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) infrastructure for the city which will enable our own fleet (including refuse vehicles) to switch to CNG as well as helping commercial fleet operators do the same.
    • Project ACCRA will assess the operational ability of hybrid vehicles to automatically switch to zero emission mode when they are in an area of poor air quality.
    • Leeds secured £150,000 in partnership with Dearman Ltd to investigate the potential to reduce the impact of refrigerated transport on air quality in Leeds. This project can demonstrate how NOx emitted from these units can be eradicated from the chilled goods supply chain.
    • There is a statutory requirement to declare Air Quality Management Areas in residential areas of the city that show elevated levels of air pollution. Leeds currently has identified six areas in the city that fall into the category and require a targeted approach to improving air quality. More information is available here.

There is plenty going on with the city, and it is not just the council that are leading the way. We are working with some of biggest institutions and organisations in the city to look at how we can all play our part in making the city a better place to live, work and play.

Myths

Let's clear a few things up

Myth:

Cyclists and pedestrians are exposed to more air pollution than drivers

Fact:

Wrong. As well as being better for your health and fitness, evidence shows that cyclists and pedestrians are also less exposed to air pollution than people in vehicles. This is because your air filter probably doesn’t remove pollution from the air it circulates and being on the road itself means that your vehicles is surrounded by exhaust fumes. Pedestrians and cyclists are also less exposed because even 1 metre away from traffic, there is considerably less pollution than on the road itself.

Myth:

Turning your engine on and off again whilst sat in traffic releases more emissions than leaving it running.

Fact:

Whether you’re stuck in traffic or just waiting to pick someone up, if you think that your car might be stationary for more than 2 minutes it’s better to turn your engine off than leave it running. Doing so will reduce the amount of gases harmful to our health and the environment that your car emits. It’s an easy way to reduce your own contribution to air pollution!

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