This Could Be A…Breath of Fresh Air


Air pollution is an invisible enemy – killing 9,000 Londoners early every year. The brief drop in traffic levels during the coronavirus lockdown gave us a glimpse of what life could be like with less congestion and cleaner air. Around the world, cities are now taking inspirational steps to prioritise the needs of people above cars, with pedestrianised areas and new cycling provision. Let’s seize this moment to do something amazing in Wanstead too. We’ve come up with some quick and simple ways you can help put pressure on Redbridge Council and the Government to get their act together and deal with the problem of air pollution. Imagine Wanstead less choked up with traffic. It could be a breath of fresh air.


Dirty air is estimated to cause 40,000 early deaths a year in the UK, and the London Assembly says the capital’s toxic air is a public health crisis. Exposure to air pollution stunts the growth of children’s lungs and increases the chance of lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and other illnesses. Now evidence is mounting that it is linked to increased Covid-19 infections and death rates according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The main cause of air pollution in London is traffic. The quieter streets, cleaner air and lower noise levels that lockdown brought have been welcomed across Wanstead. We have been able to breath more easily, smell the freshness of the air and better hear bird song for the first time. Many cities, including areas of central London, have recently and quickly made expanded cycle ways or traffic-free streets to make cycling safer and reduce crowding on pavements and on public transport. But so far, sadly not in Redbridge. Cycling is a way to travel with lower risk of Coronavirus infection than public transport, however, understandably, many people are put off getting on their bike due to the lack of traffic-free safe cycleways. The danger is that people will start to drive more to avoid infection, worsening air quality and putting health at risk in other ways.

In Redbridge, cycling provision is far poorer than in other boroughs, and cycleways – especially safe cycleways where riders are separated from the traffic – are few and far between. There is a noticeable deterioration in safe cycling options when cycling from Waltham Forest to Redbridge, for example.  While Redbridge Council has shown intention to improve matters and is currently undertaking a consultation (which we encourage all to contribute to), the more pressure that is exerted on them by residents, the higher safe cycling will move up the agenda. Many schemes can be done at low cost. Others will require major funding. However, the health of all of us and especially our children is at stake.


Contribute your ideas to the Redbridge Council survey on healthier and safer streets at You can comment specifically on where in Wanstead you’d like to see cycleways and reductions in traffic.

Write to our MP Ask our Wanstead MP, John Cryer, what action he is taking to keep our air clean by emailing him this letter:  or just drop him a quick note at

Join many others around Wanstead by not using the car for local journeys and traveling by foot, bike or scooter instead.

Join Wanstead Climate Action and help us campaign locally (email us at wansteadclimateaction@gmail to find out more or join our group). You may have recently seen our distinctive yellow and black posters around Wanstead which point out areas that could be safe cycle lanes, safe cycle storage and electric bike hubs. Join the campaign by downloading and posting these in the appropriate spots. Get in touch for our guide to posting and let us know how you get on afterwards!

Got kids? Check out the great work by Mums for Lungs


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