POLLUTION-choked Warwick and Leamington could soon see the introduction of Boris bikes.
The towns were recently named by the World Health Organisation as two of the worst places in the UK for air pollution – putting the health of the ‘youngest’ eldest and poorest’ at risk.
And in a bid to improve air quality across the whole of Warwickshire – where some 270 people die each year from illnesses associated with air pollution – county councillors have carried out a report complete with a number of suggestions.
Along with promoting using bikes, trains and car sharing, the report also looks at ideas which have successfully reduced congestion in London. One of the ideas which could be implemented – if it is proved cost-effective – is introducing so-called Boris bikes.
The bikes – which are named after former mayor and now foreign secretary Boris Johnson – cost £2 to rent in the capital and can be left at various stations.
In the report – which the council’s cabinet is set to discuss on Tuesday (January 24) – there is also the recommendation to introduce air-friendly routes for lorry drivers using HGV sat-navs.
Coun Jonathan Chilvers, chair of the Air Quality Task and Finish Group – which compiled the report – said: “Poor air quality is a big issue which affects us all.
“As many people die from inhaling fumes as die from obesity and many more people’s health is affected, for instance related to asthma.
“The council has a big say on what roads are built, especially when new housing developments are being put up. There needs to be a step change so that walking, cycling are safe and enjoyable for short journeys so that when we do need to use cars we don’t get stuck in a jam breathing in pollution.
“The Air Quality report we’ve published makes practical recommendations to help make this happen. ”
To fund the proposals officers have submitted a bid to Defra for an £88,000 grant.
Some £30,000 of the money would go towards equipment to implement the recommendations. The rest would pay for a travel plan officer for schools and businesses and a campaign urging people to think twice before jumping in the car.
Previously The Observer revealed how environment chiefs had named the top three pollution hot spots in the district as being underneath the railway bridge on Clemens Street, Jury Street in Warwick, and Barford. Heavy traffic was blamed for the high levels of pollutants.