Traffic pollution levels

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Traffic pollution levels

Like loads of Herne Hill families we have to cross the main Dulwich Road / Norwood Road / Half Moon Lane junction every day for school and have been really conscious this winter of how bad the traffic pollution is.

There's so much traffic jammed up there under the bridge and you have to wait ages to cross. The air is disgusting whilst you're waiting to cross.

We've been really struggling with sore throats and sinusitus all winter and am sure it is related.

Have any other families been struggling?

And does anyone know how to go about getting pollution levels at the junction monitored?


The Herne Hill Forum has been

The Herne Hill Forum has been investigating getting an air quality monitor system to locate just under the bridge. It would be at the head height of a 6 year old as pollution levels there are worse than at 5-6ft up where the adults breathe in. Obviously being in a car in that junction is even worse as cars tend to re-circulate the poor air.

We are having difficulty in finding one that can be remotely controlled and accessed so that we can display the pollution levels hour by hour on the web site. Any recommendations from anyone would be very welcome.

Great to know the forum's on

Great to know the forum's on the case - I've mailed the London Air Quality Network at King's College to see if they can advise on how we can get it monitored.


Have you thought of getting in touch with CleanSpace to see if they can help?

They are engaged in a mapping project to monitor real time air quality in London using their new CleanSpace tags.  These don't need any electricity but would require connecting via Bluetooth on a mobile every so often to download the data and upload to them.


We did contact them. Their

We did contact them. Their monitor does an aggregated measurement of CO2. They are bringing out one that will do NO2 and maybe even particulates later in the year. However their interface to a monitoring computer is not great so we are still looking.

Have you looked at this:

Have you looked at this:

And asked at South London Makerspace?


wondering if anything can be done with the traffic light sequencing to make the flow of traffic better somehow as well - or indeed the road layout - it's so busy all the time and just becomes one big car park under the bridge.

Bruno Combelles
I am taking part in a scheme

I am taking part in a scheme developed by a charity called "Mapping for Change". We are monitoring NOx (because it's the cheapest pollution to monitor) levels in various points in Lambeth. Two months into the scheme (which will last another 4), the results are pretty clear: air pollution is everywhere in the borough, not just at busy junctions. I'm personally in charge of a monitoring tube outside of the Effra Nursury and even there, levels of NOx in the air break EU legal limits and I expect results for January to be even worse.

Full results can be seen here

There is no doubt that more exposed areas such as Herne Hill junction will be even more polluted. Monitoring is not enough though especially now it is pretty much established that the problem is general across all street sizes, we need meaningful actions to reduce traffic, encourage cycling and protect kids and elderlies who are the ones suffering from air pollution the most.

Traffic - Dulwich/Norwood/Milkwood

I am replying to a comment made: "....we need meaningful actions to reduce traffic, encourage cycling and protect kids and elderlies who are the ones suffering from air pollution the most." While I agree with this general principle, I do not think cycling is the panacea for all human traffic movement across this area. The 7.30-8.30 jam, and the 3.30-5 pm jam, is mostly explained by school run traffic - we all moved here to get to the best schools in the country. As a parent, in his early years, he could not cycle, and we did car pool. Sometimes this was a disaster and unless you have a committee or council with working parents, with girls and boys, in different schools starting at different times, you will not understand or realise that car pooling does not necessarily reduce the cars on the road - one parent takes the one lot to one school, whilst the other parent takes the other lot. As my son got older, we tried the scooter and/or cycling path, but on some days impossible - totally heavy school bag, sport bag, and musical instrument. Again he did try walking during lovely summer days - but only if he did not have sports or music...

Also, as a parent who has arthritis in both knees, I am sometimes tired of the cycling mantra - it assumes everyone can cycle, that everyone is not terrified of cyling, and that it is something one just assumes . As a previous North Londoner living in Islington - I lived on buses. Why? I cannot drive. I cannot cycle. What I would like is a hell of a lot more frequent buses between the different South London boroughs. Without cycling being assumed in traffic planning equations.

Now the public bus - P4 is abysmal - it services so many kids, and it is often late during peak times, it disappears from our app when we are planning when to go out to wait at the bus stop (during rain weather), and is often so crowded. Moreover, in the evenings, around 4 pm - kids wait from the South Circular route to Brixton route for the P4 for sometimes 20 minutes...

There are very few cross South London buses (how do I get from Herne Hill to - Blackheath/Greenwich, for example by bus?)

I cannot understand why the Herne Hill Forum does not advocate more buses. 

More buses, more frequent buses, and perhaps us parents will stop stepping in to give car lifts basically to the school kids in the mornings and evenings (because that is what we end up doing after pathetic texts from our children saying they are "still" waiting for the P4..).

Bruno Combelles
I am sometimes tired of the

I am sometimes tired of the cycling mantra - it assumes everyone can cycle, that everyone is not terrified of cyling, and that it is something one just assumes

Hi Uma,

Just to clarify, I'm not saying that cycling is a silver bullet that will solve the problem of air pollution. But if a fraction of those who by default drive were considering taking up cycling for short hops, the situation could only improve. No one should be terrified of cycling, but even as a seasoned urban cyclist I can see why some would, even on a seemingly quiet road like Railton Rd. Encouraging cycling envolves developing an environment that allows anyone to cycle comfortably regardless of their fitness or skills, that means creating suitable infrastructures and enforcing existing laws that protect cyclists and are regularly ignored by motorists.

You make good points about buses and school runs. Why do we not have school buses like other part of the country? There is an assumption that our general transport system is enough when it clearly could be improved.

we all moved here to get to

we all moved here to get to the best schools in the country

I didn't.  I moved here about 15-16 years ago as it was the only place that I could afford.

How times change.

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