As we begin to see lockdown restrictions eased, the TRL says that we should use this opportunity to acknowledge the clear correlation between air pollution and COVID-19 deaths found across Europe, US and China. Insurance Edge hasn’t seen that definitive evidence, in fact there seems to be a much clearer link between obesity and Covid-19 deaths, but never mind, let’s move on.
TRL, in line with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Air Pollution, is calling for an accelerated rollout of electric vehicle infrastructure in order to prevent higher deaths once commuting becomes more frequent.
Some might say that building urban cycleway infrastructure that totally separated bicycles from powered vehicles, getting people onto bikes in the same numbers as seen in the Netherlands and Denmark, would benefit the air quality, lower road casualties and increase personal fitness to a degree where the NHS would be treating 10,000 fewer obese people each year, would be a better strategy. But let’s not quibble – it’s Friday.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Air Pollution (APPG) has launched its strategy to keep air pollution low coming out of lockdown. This strategy suggests proposals that includes accelerating the roll out of EV infrastructure, an action that could greatly benefit areas of high congestion and air pollution.
There’s no doubt that many people will be reluctant to use public transport this summer, especially at peak times. As the government announces that masks – initially scorned as being useless by many medical experts – will now have to worn by law on public transport from June 15th, many people will choose to commute by car, or motorcycle, instead of running the germ-infested gauntlet of public transport.
One irony in all this is that the routine wearing of masks in public MIGHT help reduce the long term effects of air pollution from vehicle traffic, although there’s no practical way to prove that, except by mass population studies carried out over decades.
MOVING ELECTRIC CARS ON FROM THE `SECOND CAR’ OPTION
TRL’s Consumers, Vehicles and Energy Integration (CVEI) investigation highlighted the demand and tipping points for consumers when making the switch from petrol to hybrid/electric. The study found that 50% of participants would either consider switching to a hybrid as a main/second car or an electric as a second car. Of these participants, 90% would also consider switching to an electric vehicle as a main car if the range increased to 300 miles.
With studies suggesting there is a strong consumer demand for EVs both now and in the future, TRL believes the time for action is now.
There’s no doubt that a cycle-centric policy within major cities would do far more to improve the overall health of the population. Investment in electric car infrastructure is useful, but the bulk of it should be done by the private sector, because in the end it is the car manufacturers who stand to gain most from the mass switch from petrol/diesel to electric cars. Plus lithium mine owners.
As home working becomes the norm and people shop online, we need a big conversation about the purpose for city and town centres. What are they for, leisure or shopping/work? If it’s leisure then we need to get rid of all vehicles, yes, even the majority of the electric ones. The challenge is creating cities that are fit for life, not silent traffic.