Ive been saying for some time that there will be a study which shows that taxi drivers are exposed to the highest levels of pollution in Central London.
Well here it is!
If asked to think about the problem of air pollution in cities, you might picture pedestrians and cyclists wearing masks to protect themselves from breathing in harmful fumes.
So you might be surprised that in our experiment the highest levels of air pollution were recorded by the person in the car, followed by the person travelling by bus.
In fact, the car driver was exposed to more than twice the amount of air pollution as the person walking the same busy route, and almost eight times more pollution than the cyclist.
The reason for this is that the vehicles were travelling in a queue of traffic that produced a stream of air pollution from the vehicles directly in front.
This air pollution was brought in through the ventilation systems and trapped within the vehicles, resulting in higher concentration levels.
Meanwhile, the pedestrian was walking to the side of the sources of air pollution and so was exposed to much lower concentration levels and, although taking longer, half the amount of air pollution as the person in the car.
The cyclist sharing the same road as the car was most likely able to avoid the higher concentration levels of pollution by not always being directly behind the vehicle in front and because the air was able to circulate freely around them.
The cyclist was 13 minutes quicker than the car, and was exposed to an eighth of the pollution.
The lowest pollution levels were experienced by the volunteers on the alternative quiet routes, away from busy road traffic. In particular, the person walking the quiet route was exposed to a third of the pollution as the person walking the busier route.
For the cyclists, the difference was most noticeable in the average levels of pollution that were 30% lower for the quieter route.
Editorial Comment...by Peter Conneely.
We need No Emissions Taxis, Buses and goods vehicles in next 10 years to be mandatory. London's buses currently recieve £150m a year. This type of investment from TfL would give each Taxi a £6,000 zero emission LPG engine conversion and would be a one off payment, unlike buses who get this money annually.
"Zero Emission" taxi engines already exist and should be subsidised, the same way buses recieve a subsidy.
LPG engines are currently working in 2 models of LTC Taxis, TX1 and TX2, plus I believe there was also a MetroCab running around on LPG. These are custom built engines which have all been tested and passed by the PCO.
Conversions could also be financed partially by LPG company, with Ads on cabs. Perhaps there could be a new partnership - Boris Cabs- you never know!!!
Source: HealthyAir.com: with thanks to Dave Davies.