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Air Quality campaigns for everyone

Clean Air Day

Clean Air Day normally takes place on the third Thursday in June and is the UK’s largest air pollution campaign. It encourages everyone to take action to help reduce air pollution and usually involves hundreds of events around the country including many in our borough.

Clean Air Day – 17 June 2021

Due to the social distancing rules in place to keep people safe, we were unable to offer in-person events for Clean Air Day 2021.

We wanted to inspire residents to celebrate and to take action for a whole week. There were many ways that you can do this, with lots of activities and resources available to help, for schools, families, businesses and individuals.

We aimed to:

  • Support schools to run activities for their year group bubbles. This included:
    • Our poster competition on the theme 'London’s Lungs' which attracted entries from schools across the borough. View all the entries including the winning posters.
    • Activity sheets, lesson plan and slides for KS1, 2 & 3; a quiz, word search and informative videos from Global Action Plan
    • Air Pollution maps with a supporting mapping toolkit and other resources provided by the Cleaner Air Sooner toolkits, as per the school’s eNewsletter on 18 May 2021
  • Suggest that you calculate your air pollution footprint using this online calculator from Global Action Plan and discover ways you might be able to reduce your impact
  • Recommend that individuals, schools and businesses with an interest in photography enter a themed photo competition 'Clean air in the urban realm' run by the Cross River Partnership
  • Help families with children and schools to make the school commute more fun with ‘Suss it out’ - a range of active travel related activities from Sustrans.
  • Ask businesses to visit our Air Quality for businesses web page for ideas of how to reduce their impact on local air quality and join a business-focused webinar run by Global Action Plan.
  • Encourage everyone who can to leave their car at home and walk, cycle or scoot (known as active travel) whenever possible. Active travel is good for your physical and mental health and can also save you money. We can help residents to become more confident to cycle with our free bicycle training
  • Motivate children with an online story from the National Centre for Atmospheric Science for 7 to 11 year olds. Grandma’s Footsteps explores changes in air pollution and is supported by KS2 learning resources
  • Inform schools interested in being involved in the international Freedom to Breathe project which aims to empower children to claim their right to clean air. More information is available on the Blueair website along with recorded webinars for Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3+, and teaching materials should also be available after 17 June 2021.

What we did for Clean Air Day 2020

Clean Air Day 2020 was delayed until Thursday 8 October because of COVID-19 and the usual physical events were replaced with online alternatives, including a day-long Clean Air Day Live event aimed to inspire people to take action. Sessions included a school assembly, focuses on schools and businesses, and panel discussions on health, car use, campaigning and the inequality of air pollution. You can catch-up on each session as a recording is available to view via the organiser’s page linked above.

Although Clean Air Day took a very different form in 2020, we still offered many activities and ways to inspire residents to take action, including:

  • Arranging free charging for electric vehicles on the day
  • Helping residents to become more confident to cycle by signing up for our free bicycle training
  • Raising awareness about how to improve indoor air pollution – which is especially important because many people are spending more time at home
  • Encouraging residents to leave their car at home and walk, cycle or scoot (known as using active travel) whenever possible. Active travel is good for your health and has many economic benefits including for yourself and local businesses
  • Helping people discover low pollution routes to work, school and for shopping and leisure trips
  • Promoting our Idling Action project and reminding people that engine idling pollutes our air – did you know that air pollution can be up to 4 times higher inside a car than outside it? - a good reason to switch off your engine whenever you can.

What we did for Clean Air Day 2019

For schools:

  • Encouraged schools to use toolkits and run their own events
  • Provided a smoothie bike for a few lucky schools
  • The Mayor visited St Stephens Primary School in his electric car to talk to pupils about the importance of clean air

For residents:

  • Ran a stall on the forecourt of Richmond railway station to provide:
    • Information about local air pollution and Clean Air Day
    • Activities including a smoothie-making bike – which many people enjoyed, including the Mayor
    • An eye-catching Tesla electric car exhibition – to discover more about electric vehicles
    • Street entertainers

Car Free Day

Car Free Day happens on 22 September each year and aims to reclaim streets away from vehicles for people to use, by championing traffic-free city centres and promoting active travel. The most popular activities are closing roads to produce Play Streets and School Streets.

What we did for Car Free Day 2021

Because COVID-19 restrictions were easing, but social distancing and face-masks were still recommended indoors, we focused our efforts on outside activities and those for existing 'bubbles' such as schools and businesses. The goals were to encourage people to use active travel (walking, cycling and scooting) whenever possible, and to support local businesses to make sustainable last-mile deliveries. This included:

What we did for Car Free Day 2020

In London, Car Free Day 2020 was transformed from its usual format because of COVID-19 and many events were replaced with digital alternatives, including the online Car Free Day Summit event which was designed to celebrate and stimulate debate about ways to transition to traffic-free city centres around the world. You can catch up via the organiser’s page via the link above, to view sessions which covered topics such as zero emissions, building stronger communities and healthy cities.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, we concentrated efforts in our borough on encouraging people to use active travel as this video shows and support their local high streets. We highlighted schemes that were implemented as part of our emergency streetspace response to COVID-19 which included:

  • Installing the borough's first semi-permanent segregated cycle lane on Kew Road
  • Creating Hampton Court Road’s new interim cycling scheme
  • Introducing School Streets in the borough as part of an on-going programme
  • Closing Church St in Twickenham to enable restaurants and customers to enjoy additional space for tables and chairs
  • Supporting cycling in the borough with:

What we did for Car Free Day 2019

The highlights were:

  • Creating 68 Play Streets across the borough
  • Closing two streets: Crown Rd in St Margarets and Whittaker Ave in Richmond in order to run a host of events including:
    • Bouncy castles
    • Face painting
    • Dr Bike cycle maintenance sessions
    • Smoothie bikes
    • E-motor bikes
    • Information stalls
    • A health walk

Idling Action Campaign

The Council has taken action on engine idling in the borough and we ask drivers to switch off engines when their vehicle is parked for more than one minute to avoid creating unnecessary air pollution. Idling action events have been held around schools, at level crossings and in Richmond town centre.

We are part of a coordinated London wide scheme tackling idling, called Idling Action. Together with the Mayor of London’s team, we work with primary schools to educate children about air quality, to raise awareness about idling and promote active travel to school.

Further information

For the latest information on Council-led campaigns, view:

Updated: 08 October 2021