On two days in the last week, the air quality in London was worse than in Beijing. Particulate pollution soared to a “very high” level — black or 10/10 — in 20 London locations, according to scientists at King’s College. Bloomsbury was one of the 20. Four hundred London schools were said to be “choking” in areas breaching legal pollution limits. Almost certainly that would have included Argyle, Christopher Hatton and St George the Martyr.
Recommendations from the Mayor’s Office included the ideas that you should stay indoors and avoid doing physical exercise. Parents have been warned not to take babies outside. No word about not driving a car. Even though it’s known that the pollution inside a vehicle is even worse than for either pedestrians or cyclists. As Fitzrovia News reported, a common sight during the week’s cold snap was drivers in parked cars, idling their engines, sitting snugly in the warmth of a diesel fog.
The Evening Standard ran the story on its front page and said that “drastic action seen in European cities such as Paris, Rome and Milan — which in the past have all implemented temporary vehicle bans in response to soaring pollution — should not be ruled out.” Paris this week banned vehicles registered before 2000.
Locally, we spent a lot of 2016 discussing whether to to have pollution on Judd St or Tavistock Place. If it can be seen through the haze, there’s a bigger picture out there somewhere.