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To: West Midlands Combined Authority
Clean Air Day 2018 - Making West Midlands Transport Fit for the Future
On National Clean Air Day more ambitious plans and major investments are needed to make transport in the West Midlands safe, inclusive and fit for the 21st century.
Why is this important?
The 21st June is National Clean Air Day, when children and adults across the West Midlands are pledging to walk, cycle and raise awareness of the effects of air pollution.
As you know, all member authorities of the WMCA have areas which exceed legal limits of nitrogen dioxide. Evidence shows that such exposure reduces lung growth, contributes to long term ill health and can cause premature death.
We hope that National Clean Air Day will reduce pollution on the day, but more importantly it is an opportunity to focus on the future. The single largest source of nitrogen dioxide in many areas is diesel cars, and in this region more than most this is due to a car dependency faced by many households. For too many people public transport, walking and cycling do not feel safe or practical.
Road congestion damages our health, economy and communities, and the current dependence on cars is unsustainable with a growing population. Meanwhile, cars contribute to many of the other health challenges we face. Among these, the West Midlands has some of the highest childhood obesity rates in the country, and the lowest rates of physical activity - both would improve if children felt safe to walk and cycle. Sedentary lifestyles are closely linked to car use and contribute to major illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and depression. The combined authority includes areas which already have some of the poorest health outcomes in the country. If the West Midlands is to grow inclusively the opportunity for health must be available to all residents, with clean air, safe roads, and well-connected transport.