Thousands ‘go car-free’ this Clean Air Day

- Greater Manchester residents and schools are going car-free to mark 2021 national Clean Air Day

- More than 50 GM schools are trialling temporary School Streets to enable thousands of children to walk, cycle or scoot to school safely, breathing cleaner air

- Hundreds more GM schools are actively promoting Clean Air Day and encouraging parents and carers to ‘go car-free’

Thousands of Greater Manchester residents are today leaving their cars at home to mark national Clean Air Day, opting to ‘go car-free’ and walk, scoot, cycle or wheel to work, school or the shops.

More than 50 GM schools are today trialling temporary ‘school streets’ where roads are closed to cars and cycling, walking, scooting and wheeling are prioritised. Greater Manchester has committed to delivering 50 walking and cycling-friendly permanent School Streets by March 2022. Hundreds more GM schools are actively promoting Clean Air Day and encouraging parents and carers to make the switch away from the car.

Last month, Clean Air Greater Manchester launched an online campaign calling on people to ‘go car-free’ and make everyday journeys and the school run by bike or on foot. People have been encouraged to spread the word and share their active travel journeys on social media by using #GMCleanAirDay and tagging @CleanAirGM.

The projects form part of Greater Manchester’s ambition to deliver the UK’s largest cycling and walking network and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2038. Projections show that if all Greater Manchester car journeys less than one kilometre were walked or cycled, we’d help prevent at least 42,750 tonnes of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere – a saving that’s equivalent to planting 21 million new trees in just one year.

Greater Manchester lead for Clean Air, Councillor Andrew Western, said: “I want to thank the thousands of people across Greater Manchester who are committing to ‘go car-free’ today to mark Clean Air Day. I am sure that residents, including parents, carers and children, will really enjoy walking, scooting, wheeling or cycling to get around locally and for the school run, and it will be the start of a new, greener, healthier daily routine.”

Nikki Lewis, a teacher at Cale Green Primary School in Stockport, where high numbers of children regularly walk or cycle to school, said: “As a whole school community, we have a good commitment to sustainable travel. Right from a very young age, we will encourage children to walk, scoot or cycle to school. I think it’s about making it a really essential part of your curriculum. The children definitely have more energy.”

GM leaders are committed to tackling air pollution, which is the biggest environmental public health issue facing the city-region and contributes to around 1,200 deaths in Greater Manchester alone each year.

In Greater Manchester, 200 million trips of under one kilometre are made by car in the region every year – adding to congestion and poor air quality. This is the equivalent of a 15-minute walk or four minutes’ cycling.

As part of the wider effort to create a cleaner, greener, healthier city-region, Greater Manchester will shortly publish its proposed final Clean Air Plan. The plan, which has been developed by the 10 GM councils and coordinated by TfGM, aims to bring nitrogen dioxide levels within legal limits on local roads in the shortest possible time, and by 2024 at the latest.