David Smith wants to see keep clear zones at London bus stops
David Smith with his three-year-old son Eli. Picture: David Smith
David Smith, a 47-year-old project manager from Wandsworth, has launched a campaign for keep clear zones to be placed around bus stops in London. He has set up an online petition to gain support for his idea and he wants to lobby the Mayor and Transport for London to consider the plan and has already received over 100 signatures.
His idea for the initiative came when we saw how much toxic fumes children, including his three-year-old son Eli, were forced to inhale when waiting at bus stops.
He says, “When our son was two and a half years old, I broke his heart. I took away the thing that gave him the most joy – riding his little bike around Stockwell Skatepark. I did it for the right reasons, but it still hurts to this day.
“To get from our home in Wandsworth to Stockwell Skatepark by 10am (an hour before the bigger kids get there), we’d travel down West Hill, wait for the 37 bus to Lambeth Town Hall, then walk along the Brixton Road. Throughout this journey we were either walking alongside, standing next to or riding in lanes of slow moving or idling traffic.”
He is a regular user of the 37 and 337 bus routes from his home near West Hill and often having to wait on the South Circular or Putney High Street where pollution levels have been documented as being very high. He calculates that a child travelling to school each day would spend over a day and a half each year waiting at bus stops at peak times in these areas. He has managed to borrow a AQMesh air monitoring station to measure nitrogen dioxide levels which he says are “worryingly high” at peak times.
Artist's impression of how the clear zone would look
Mr Smith points to studies across the world, including ones in London, that consistently find that regular exposure to traffic pollution effects the growth and function of children’s lungs. He says that the UK has one of the highest rates of childhood asthma in the world with an estimated 1.1 million children diagnosed as suffering from the disease which research suggests on in four cases of which are caused by air pollution.
He added, “Our son is now three years old and like millions of children across the UK he unknowingly breathes harmful levels of pollution travelling to nursery/school whilst morning traffic pollution is at its highest.
“We are advised to take routes away from busy roads but millions of children live on or near busy roads, attend schools near busy roads, their journeys are unavoidably along busy roads. Babies in buggies and young children are closest to the vehicles exhausts and exposed to higher concentrations of toxic gases and particulates.”
July 18, 2018