High pollution leaves us longing for empty street views of the Capital

London is in the midst of a three-day toxic air alert.

This episode follows London once again reaching the annual air pollution limit in the space of a week. Multiple pockets of London streets exceed legal hourly levels of nitrogen dioxide.

It comes despite reports that toxic air on notoriously congested Oxford Street has dropped by a third in the last twelve months, due to 70% of buses switched from diesel to a greener or electric fleet.

Tackling London’s excess pollution will take a lot more than cleaning up buses. To see a real difference we should take notes from Parisian’s approach to air pollution.

Car-Free Day Throughout Paris, An Event Conceived By Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo And French Collective 'Paris Sans voiture'

Paris took part in World Carfree day last year and closed 400 miles of roads. Then in December, amid high levels of smog, the French capital banned 50% of vehicles across two days.

First, cars with number plates ending in an odd number were left at home, the next day even numbers. Public transport was free on both days.

It’s a dramatic move but one that can drastically lower harmful pollutants.

Until a similar day arrives in the UK, check out our gallery of London’s empty streets and imagine them filled with pedestrians and cyclists instead.

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Keep up to date with air quality here.

Cover photo 📷  Nick Dolding
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