Dr Ashok Sinha, CEO of the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) tells us about his Map London experience
- Why did LCC join Map London?
London’s toxic air quality shortens and blights the lives of thousands of people every year. Switching from motor vehicle use to cycling is a key part of the solution. Map London helps us understand where the problems are worst and provides data to help win the case for investment in cycling, walking and public transport as alternatives to driving.
- What is your own experience of pollution in the city?
Most of the time you don’t notice it – that’s the insidious nature of the problem. But sometimes I can’t avoid taking in lungfulls of black, acrid exhaust fumes when cycling behind a dirty diesel vehicle. Not nice, but I’m actually more worried about my kids’ health.
- Have you had any interesting readings?
A few people in the LCC office have been using the tag; we’re quite familiar with the general distribution of pollution in London, so, sadly, there have been few surprises. But some LCC members have found it quite an eye opener to see just how bad air pollution can be.
- What’s the feedback from your members been like?
Use of the tags has been one of the ways in which we have raised consciousness amongst LCC members of the problem of air pollution. As a result of this heightened awareness, addressing air pollution is now core business for LCC in a way that it wasn’t before.
- Why is pollution data of interest to LCC?
At the moment we are just seeing how the tags are being used by members as they go about their business. Longer term we want to do systematic local area surveys – e.g. near schools – to build a case at the GLA and council level for restraining motor traffic and acting to make cycling safer and a more attractive option for people of all ages and abilities.
- What does LCC have planned for the rest of the year and in 2017?
LCC was successful in persuading the new Mayor, Sadiq Khan, to build on and expand the support for cycling that our Love London, Go Dutch campaign won from his predecessor Boris Johnson; the current Mayor has also made it a top priority to tackle London’s air pollution, which won’t happen unless we can get people to use alternatives to motor vehicles where suitable. Accordingly, task one for LCC is to hold Sadiq to account. Task two will be to put the spotlight on borough councils as we head through 2017 and into the 2018 local elections.