A tip for taxi drivers. Story by Graham Jones – Taxis provide and a source of income for many and are an unsung essential service.
On 10th January many taxi drivers went to register to use the railway station rank. There was a simultaneous and lively event with about twenty stalls promoting wellbeing as taxi drivers suffer disproportionately from a range of illnesses.
The Burngreave Clean Air campaign had a stall talked to drivers about our. We found many taxi drivers “Air Aware” but were saddened that taxi drivers are exposed to such health risks. Some said the current railway station rank is being particularly hazardous. There are extremely high levels of nitrogen dioxide due to diesel from trains and the layout causes up to thirty taxis to idle in the queue as they edge their way forward. Drivers don’t have the opportunity to turn their engines off, use the toilets or socialise as they did before. The lack of toilets means that some drivers do not drink enough. Pollution levels inside vehicles are actually higher than outside and can lead to respiratory and heart conditions and cancer.
Sheffield City Council have a courageous new Clean Air Strategy with measures including reducing idling, increasing pollution awareness and creating clean air zones.
Taxis not only provide a service but reduce the number of cars on the road. It was disappointing that the new Strategic Transport Plan for the North does not feature any subsidy for the introduction of modern low emission fleets of taxis.
Air Aware. Story by Nathan Standley – The leader of the Burngreave Clean Air Campaign has said levels of pollution in Burngreave are “unsafe, illegal and unacceptable”.
Graham Jones spoke and presented a petition of over 300 signatures to the Council in December. Councillor Talib Hussain, and Cabinet Member for Transport and Sustainability, Jack Scott both offered their support.
The campaign started when Graham wrote an article for the Messenger, which gained a lot of support locally. He told me:
“I was surprised by the positive reception we got. Many people had family members with respiratory conditions.” Graham, a retired nurse, said it was important to make the council aware of Burngreave’s pollution problem as it has five of the worst affected schools in Sheffield. His own measurements found 47 μg/m³ Nitrogen Dioxide when the absolute legal limit is 40.
Nitrogen Dioxide causes inflammation of the airways and makes respiratory conditions like asthma worse. It is also linked to dementia, strokes, heart disease and cancer.
The council’s Clean Air Strategy notes that Sheffield has been breaking the legal air pollution limit since 2010.
Despite Councillor Scott’s support for the Burngreave campaign, he has received criticism from Councillor Douglas Johnson for overseeing both the Clean Air Strategy and the planned lane expansion of the A61.
“We would like to work effectively with the council but we are independent from them so we have the luxury of being able to criticise them if we aren’t happy. We don’t just want to bring the pollution levels down to legally acceptable levels, we want them down to humanely acceptable levels.”
You can join Burngreave Clean Air campaign on Facebook or contact Graham at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to get involved.