Making transport in the city safer for pedestrians and cyclists has a positive effect on the quality of the city's air and subsequently peoples' health. Giving people more confidence to leave their cars at home reduces the amount of harmful nitrogen dioxide emissions and particulate matter entering the air we breathe.
Cllr Lynne Stagg, Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transportation, said: "I'm very pleased that we've been able to bring the year to a close by celebrating these successful projects which increase peoples' safety and improve our air quality.
"2020 is set to be another busy year with the strong possibility of a charging clean air zone being imposed by Government, as their view is this achieves cleaner air in the quickest time possible. We'll also continue to implement our plans that include improving cycling and walking routes, fun activities for young people on the benefits of active travel and improving the regions connectivity with Portsmouth."
Here is a run-down of just some of the projects carried out in 2019 which are helping to improve the cleanliness of the city's air.
An anti-idling campaign launched at the beginning of the year reminded residents and visitors 'Cough, cough, engine off'. Switching off a vehicle engine when stationary for a minute or so, can reduce the amount of harmful emissions entering the air. Drivers who regularly switch off their engines when stationary are more likely to save money on fuel and benefit from less wear and tear on their engines too.
Access to electric vehicle charge points was made easier after the introduction of a new residential charging scheme in March. The scheme enables drivers to access pay-as-you-go electric charging though lamppost columns and bollards. In November, the scheme won the council an E-Mobility Progress Award at the TRANStech Awards for its innovative approach. There are currently 36 on-street residential EV charge points in the city with a second phase to be delivered in the near future.
The warmer days of spring brought a tiger to town. The new Tiger crossing, the first of its kind in the city, was installed in Fawcett Road. The crossing allows both cyclists and pedestrians to cross the road using marked routes. Riders are encouraged to use the cycle path rather than cycling around Fratton roundabout, giving them more confidence to travel this busy route.
Disabled bus pass users took part in a six month trial, allowing them to use their disabled passes at any time of day. A previous restriction on travel before 9.30am was lifted to allow users more flexibility, which helps promote independence and improves access to work and education. The scheme has now been extended until March 2020.
The council celebrated Clean Air Day in June with incentives for children, residents, businesses and council staff. People were encouraged to give their cars the day off by working from home, cycling, walking, using Park & Ride or public transport. The Lord Mayor visited two schools accompanied by Deputy Lord Mayor, council cabinet members and Pompey Monster, Stomper. Children from two schools were treated to a special assembly where they learnt about the effects of air pollution and discovered how travelling actively can help make the city's air cleaner.
The warm days of summer were the perfect time for children to get out and about. Children cycled, walked and scooted around six areas of the city to take part in a six week treasure hunt, Stomp for Stamps. Participants collected stamps and stickers to unlock hidden treasure, a cuddly Stomper toy. Over 230 children successfully completed the challenge.
In September, the council began rolling out its bus retrofit scheme. 105 buses, including Firstbus and Stagecoach vehicles, which travel through air quality management areas, will be upgraded to meet Euro 6 emission standards. Park and Ride buses were the first vehicles to receive the upgraded technology which significantly reduces harmful emissions such as nitrogen dioxide, diesel particulates, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons.
Work to make the A2047 safer for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers was completed in September. The road, which runs through Fratton and North End now features clearly marked and widened cycle lanes which increases visibility of cyclists along this busy route. Raised tables at 14 junctions slow motorists when approaching the main road.
In October the council submitted its Air Quality Local Plan to the government. The paper included recommendations for a Class B charging Clean Air Zone in an area to the south west of the city. This is the lowest class of clean air zone expected to deliver compliance with legal limits for nitrogen dioxide in the shortest possible time. The government are still studying these plans and the council are anticipating a response in the New Year.
The year was sealed with a big X as another innovative pedestrian crossing was installed in Burnaby Road. The crossing, which is the first of its kind in Hampshire, aims to improve pedestrian safety by allowing walkers to travel diagonally in one movement across the junction using two controlled crossing points. The upgraded signalling includes low-level signals which allows cyclists a safer head-start over other traffic.