An article in the herald earlier this week highlighted some of the health issues we see have with motorways.
People who live beside Auckland’s Southern Motorway are subjected to air pollution at nearly double the level of those 130m further away, research shows.
The researchers suggest looking at preventing people from living within 20m of motorways and building more walls to separate the roadways from homes, children’s facilities and businesses.
Fixed and bicycle-mounted measuring instruments, used in autumn and winter in Otahuhu, detected pollution levels that peaked beside the motorway from 7am to 9am, coinciding with the morning commuter rush.
The researchers, from Canterbury University’s geography department and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, found similarly high levels of pollution along Princess St, which feeds the motorway, and several other areas of high traffic volume.
Potentially of most concern is their finding of a morning peak of around 140,000 “ultrafine” particles of pollution per cubic centimetre of air.
These particles, a 10,000th of a millimetre in diameter, can penetrate deep into the lungs. Particulate air pollution is associated with lung disease and heart problems.
What this really shows is one of the key issues of having such a reliance on urban motorways. It also makes me wonder what it would do to the business cases of projects if we had also considered the health impacts and the mitigation needed to address those impacts. The article says some researchers are now suggesting we need a 100m buffer to motorways, the costs of doing that would be astronomical from both a financial and land use perspective.
Some will of course point out that electric cars will solve these problems and while it may to a large extent, as Peter has pointed out in the past, uptake of electric vehicles has been glacially slow and there is no sign of that changing any time soon.