Oxford Street—the iconic shopping street in the center of London—has long suffered from unsafe air pollution levels. And while bus strikes have occasionally brought temporary relief, finding a long-term solution to this life threatening problem has proven an uphill struggle.
Now, however, there are promising signs of significant progress.
The Times reports that nitrogen dioxide levels have fallen to 86 micrograms per cubic meter, down from 135 micrograms just one year earlier. That's a 30% cut in just 12 months.
Of course, pinpointing why this drop has occurred is going to be challenging, because there are simply so many different initiatives doing on right now to tackle London's air quality issues. Whether it's reducing deliveries to local shops, embracing electric buses, mandating zero emissions-capable black cabs or investing in cycling as a real transportation option, the real insight here is that tackling air pollution through a multi-pronged approach can have significant impacts in a remarkably short amount of time.
What's even more exciting is that London is just getting started. By 2020, the whole of Oxford Street will be pedestrianized and there will be an Ultra Low Emission Zone established in central London, in which many older and more polluting vehicles will incur a significant extra charge just for driving into the zone.