It’s only the 1st day of December but NICE has already given us a gift. They are consulting on their air pollution guidelines until 25th January 2017.
However, contrary to what you might have gleaned from the headlines, the document is actually very good for us.
“The NICE guidance sets out a strategic range of evidence based practical measures to encourage low or zero emissions transport. This is very timely given the imperative to meet EU and national air quality standards.”
The NICE draft guidance recommends local councils place buildings away from busy roads when drafting town or city plans. NICE also says cyclists should be screened from motorised traffic by shrubs or plants in situations where they are found to reduce air pollution.
From our point of view it recommends separating cycle routes from busy traffic with shrubs and plants –which would rule out the usual strip of white paint at the side of a road.
Other things it recommends include prioritising active travel; lower speed limits and driver training to promote smooth driving; plus measures to reduce the emissions caused by commercial vehicles, including taxis. It even suggests employing congestion charging in problem areas.
Unfortunately, a few of the headlines you’ll have seen regarding this consultation are a load of ol’ bovine effluence. NICE does not say “remove speed bumps” by any stretch of the imagination. It actually says:
Where physical measures are needed to reduce speed, such as humps and bumps, ensure they are designed to minimise sharp decelerations and consequent accelerations.
Just a bit of a difference that, isn’t it. It actually goes onto admit that the evidence on this is weak and that it was only one for consideration. Whilst the press has largely gone with a “no speed hump” view, it could also be taken to mean installing continuous speed humps to make harsh acceleration a pointless exercise.
The general feeling that we get from the document is that they believe traffic should be reduced and the traffic that remains should be low-carbon and slow-moving.
The document itself is definitely worth a read. If you’d like to comment on the consultation, you have until the end of January 2017.