London marathon demonstrates positive impact of taking cars off the road

Photo: Frank Augstein/AP


We recently wrote about the London Marathon’s commitment to sustainability by issuing runners electrolyte water contained in edible seaweed pouches. But avoiding plastic pollution wasn’t the only environmental achievement from the marathon’s organizers, it turns out air pollution along the marathon route dropped significantly and almost instantly during the event after vehicles were temporarily taken off the roads. As Forbes explained, “After race day – and the return of motor vehicles – the foul air also returned. Using air quality data collected by monitoring stations managed by Kings College London, the campaign group Global Action Plan found that concentrations of nitrogen dioxide along Upper Thames Street dropped by 89% compared to the previous three Sundays in April.”

This isn’t the only UK event that was found to experience a drop in pollution levels after a temporary car ban. Forbes also noted that “air-quality monitoring equipment picked up a massive drop in noxious air when cyclists took over from cars on a five-mile circuit in Newcastle city center in the north east of England last year.”

Air quality in London can get so bad that officials issue warnings urging residents to avoid activities outdoors–which is really unfortunate for a city with as much outdoor recreation as London.

Why This Matters: The UK like many nations is struggling with dangerous levels of air pollution throughout its cities which can endanger the health of its citizens. As we wrote last week, in the United States it was recently revealed that 40% of Americans live in a county with unhealthy air so we’re facing very similar conditions. While some British innovators have gone as far as to create “bionic leaves” to filter air pollution, it seems like one of the best ways to do this is to limit the number of internal combustion engines on the road and then to work on better ride sharing/public transit options as technology progresses much like Los Angeles is aiming to do. London has already implemented the world’s first 24-hour Ultra Low Emissions Zones earlier this month where drivers of older and more polluting cars face paying a new £12.50 fee adding to the Congestion Charge to enter the center of the city. People around the world are choking on exhaust smoke and the more innovative policies we can create to decrease air pollution from cars, the better they can be replicated around the world to ensure no person is stuck breathing in toxic air.

Up Next

Dems Not Taking Trump’s Repeal of Clean Power Plan Lying Down

Dems Not Taking Trump’s Repeal of Clean Power Plan Lying Down

The Trump EPA replaced President Obama’s legacy Clean Power Plan with the much weaker Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule. Yesterday Democrats tried to use a seldom-used legal maneuver that requires the signature of just 30 senators to review and overturn ACE.

It failed, but Democrats shouldn’t let this vote pass without expanding the narrative that any rules that weaken air pollution protections pose an immediate threat to the health of Americans.

Continue Reading 330 words
Nearly 250,000 Students At Risk Due to Proximity To Active Oil and Gas Wells

Nearly 250,000 Students At Risk Due to Proximity To Active Oil and Gas Wells

A Newsy analysis released last week found that more than 600 U.S. schools are located within 500 feet of an active oil or gas well, and more than 1.4 million people across the U.S. live within the 500-foot danger zone. 

Why This Matters:  Kids should not have to go to school near active oil and gas wells with toxic air emissions that put them at higher risk for cancer and respiratory problems.  Research from the Colorado School of Public Health has found that people living within 500 feet of an oil or gas facility have a cancer risk that is 8 times higher than the EPA’s accepted threshold.

Continue Reading 419 words
An Interactive Map That Tells The Story of US Auto Emissions

An Interactive Map That Tells The Story of US Auto Emissions

Yesterday morning The New York Times published the “most detailed map of auto emissions in America” ever made.  It is a fascinating look at where air pollution has become much worse since The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 became law and which took aim for the first time at cutting pollution from cars. As […]

Continue Reading 117 words