Fresh Air February 2018
A local campaign in 2018 to improve air quality in central Wallingford
We took a Deep Breath during the springy month of February…
We all enjoy our busy, lively town but in recent years we knew there was a problem with traffic emissions (specifically ‘NOx’- which also pollutes inside cars) exceeding the permitted limits in the centre.
This was likely not to be the fault of any one group of people but due to the sheer number of vehicles on the road.
A group of residents, businesses and neighbours wanted to try to change in how and when we use our cars, to improve air quality for everyone and encourage others to do the same. We were not focusing on what we couldn’t do (e.g. run out and buy an electric car) but on what we could do right now: more walking, cycling, use of public transport or car-sharing.
We wanted people ‘cutting through’ Wallingford going to and from work to use the bypass instead. We wanted to encourage vehicles to switch off their engines at the traffic lights as much as practical and encourage “no idling”: many people know roughly how long they have to wait and have a car which starts again reliably! We could walk the kids to school to make up for the older or disabled neighbour who needs transport into town to shop. We could all make a difference together.
We asked people to put one of five posters up in their window or school to show support for this campaign.
We hoped people ‘cutting through’ would realise we have a problem and do their bit by not idling or by using the bypass. We ‘Poster Bombed’ the centre for a month so drivers could see one wherever they were sitting in the traffic feeling bored. Schools and libraries in nearby villages were also supportive.
We demonstrated with South Oxfordshire Sustainability in the Market Place and asked drivers idling at the lights to turn off their engines.
We enlisted most of the local schools in a WalktoSchool week, to help improve children’s stamina and confidence, and hep reduce traffic and emissions
We spread the word and made this the year we reduced NOx emissions!