Skip past Navigation

Breathe 47% easier on cleaner air route from Strand to Covent Garden

Posted on 01 May 2018

Good news for regular commuters between Embankment tube station and Covent Garden: The Northbank Business Improvement District (BID) has found a quieter alternative route that will reduce your exposure to air pollution. By taking back streets, you can breathe 47% easier on your walk.

Groundwork London is working with The Northbank BID to raise awareness about the alternative route. On 17 May from 11.30am – 7.00pm we’ll celebrate the health benefits of cleaner, greener streets with installations along John Adam Street. Drop in and enjoy the mini gardens to sit in, gardening clubs, games and free gym workouts along the route!

This is an open public event but there are a few timed components to be aware of:

  • Between 12.30-2pm: Northbank Nature Club – click here to get a ticket
  • Between 6.30-7pm: one of the mini gardens on Adam Street will be turned into a stage for local community choir the Northbank Singers.

See you there on Thursday, 17 May!

Go to the event webpage

How do you know this route has cleaner air?

Throughout 2017, scientists from King’s College London, commissioned by The Northbank BID, investigated different routes various professionals could take in the Trafalgar Square, Strand and Aldwych districts. People in the Northbank community tested various walking routes while wearing air pollution monitors.

Pedestrians walking from Embankment station to Covent Garden showed a 47% reduction in air pollution exposure when they chose to walk along John Adam Street, rather than the route currently taken by most commuters (read the full personal exposure report).

Just how poor is London’s air quality?

The Mayor of London describes it as a health crisis, with thousands of Londoners dying prematurely each year due to toxic air. In 2010, London’s air pollution brought about up to 9,400 premature deaths.

In 2013, approximately 1.9 million people in London (mostly in inner London) lived in areas with average NO2 concentrations above the EU health limit value.

Air quality is especially poor in inner London. In 2013 most of the City of Westminster was in breach of health limit values, with the largest breaches along main roads.

What can I do to reduce my exposure?

40% of London’s air pollution comes from diesel vehicles, so it makes sense that taking quieter back streets is better for your health. Avoiding heavily trafficked roads is a good rule of thumb for reducing your exposure in general.

For most people, the commute can represent their most significant exposure to air pollution each day. According to the Mayor of London, 1 in 6 early deaths could be prevented if everyone walked or cycled 20 minutes per day. And the study conducted by Kings College for The Northbank BID found that you could reduce your exposure by up to 90% by tweaking your commute.

Check your commute using the Mayor of London’s Clean Air Route Finder

Groundwork London is proud to be involved in initiatives like these that focus on creating public spaces that promote the health and wellbeing of communities and the environment; support sustainable economic development; and reconnect people of all ages with their public realm.

We have nearly 20 years’ experience of delivering bespoke projects in London that use the environment as a catalyst for building a more sustainable future. Last year alone we delivered over 600 projects across London, helping improve the quality of people's lives, their prospects and potential, and the places where they live, work and play.

More news from Groundwork London