Air pollution-aware walking routes in cambridge

Air pollution-aware walking routes in cambridge

Air pollution-aware walking routes in cambridge

The Cambridge Air Quality Management AreaThe Cambridge Air Quality Management Area

About this project

Poor air quality is harmful to health and the environment. It is estimated that current levels of air pollution reduce the life expectancy of everyone in the UK by an average of 8 months. Cambridge experiences areas of poor air quality and as a result an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) has been declared for the central area and busy feeder roads. (More information can be found here)

Individual exposure to poor air quality can be managed by choosing walking routes away from the most polluted areas. In Cambridge the most polluted routes tend to be the busiest roads and areas with a high proportion of buses and lorries. Choosing a route which takes you away from busy roads will reduce exposure to harmful pollutants and consequently have a beneficial effect on health.

Cambridge has generated pollution maps that are based upon air quality modelling results initially produced as part of a statutory review of air quality. The maps use annual average concentrations of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) a pollutant associated with road traffic and combustion sources.

Calculating walking routes that avoid air pollution

Air pollution maps – based on the Modelled Annual Mean NO2 Concentrations 2005 dataset – are overlaid on a map of the roads and paths in Cambridge, and average levels of NO2 pollution along each road or path segment are calculated.

When calculating a ‘low pollution’ walking route we look at each road or path segment’s average NO2, and its length. We take these together as a measure of NO2 exposure along a segment. A route is chosen that minimises the overall exposure.

It is important to note that the pollution data we are using are modelled data. This means that a low-pollution walking route cannot be guaranteed to give the absolute minimum pollution exposure for a walking route between any two given points on any given day. A route is anticipated to be the lowest or amongst the lowest walking routes on an ‘average’ day.

Projects Supporters

This project was made possible due to the support of Cambridge City Council and Camridgeshire County Council.


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