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23 Apr 2018

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Two fifths of UK children worried about air pollution

Posted on in Cycles News , Outdoor News

Over two fifths (43%) of children living in urban areas are concerned about the levels of air pollution near their school, new figures reveal.

A YouGov poll, carried out for Sustrans, surveyed over 1,000 children aged 6 to 15 years old about their attitudes towards air pollution and the actions they think should be taken to help clean up the air.

kids on bikesMore than one in three (38%) of those surveyed think that encouraging more people to cycle, scoot or walk to school is the best way to help to reduce levels of air pollution, while a further 16% feel that reducing the number of journeys taken by car would play the greatest role.

The survey has been published to coincide with the launch of the Big Pedal 2018 which takes place from 23 April - 4 May, and encourages more young people to cycle, walk and scoot to school. Held annually by Sustrans, this year's event will see more than half a million children and young people get on their bikes and scooters for their journeys to and from school.

Mark Beaumont, who has today launched the Big Pedal in Torkington Primary School in Greater Manchester, said: "We need to encourage more children and parents to walk, scoot or cycle to school by shouting about the benefits of travelling actively for shorter journeys. Fewer cars around school gates will play a significant role in reducing congestion and improving the quality of the air we breathe. Events like the Big Pedal can demonstrate to children, parents and teachers just how easy it can be to travel actively to and from school."

Air pollution is one of the leading environmental public health crises in the UK today[i]. Children are among the most vulnerable and more than 2,000 schools and nurseries are near to roads with damaging levels of motor emissions.

Sustrans is calling on the UK Government and local authorities to invest in cycling and walking infrastructure and further training and engagement programmes which will enable more young people to travel actively to school every day.

Xavier Brice, Sustrans' CEO, said: "We're in the midst of an air quality crisis. This survey demonstrates for the first time that children are aware and concerned about poor air quality. We wanted to hear their views on the matter, as they are some of the most susceptible to the adverse effects of air pollution, which can lead to poor lung and brain development and asthma if exposed for long periods of time at a young age.

"More needs to be done to improve air quality near schools and help protect future generations. One of the best ways to do this, is by reducing the number of journeys taken by car each day in favour of walking, cycling or scooting the school run.

"The UK Government needs to show leadership by helping local authorities fund and deliver better cycling and walking infrastructure so that every child is able to travel on foot or by bike to school in safety and with confidence. Failure to act now on high levels of air pollution has the potential to have a detrimental impact on children's health."

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