Asthma UK & British Lung Foundation Wales are proud members of Transform Cymru. We are the only UK charity looking after the nation’s lungs, campaigning for better lung health so that one day everyone can breathe cleaner air with healthier lungs.
The seven steps to help transform our transport infrastructure to meet the needs of everyone in the community benefits us all much further than one ticket for every bus, train and bike hire. It’s a change of thinking that helps to promote an active lifestyle and greater community cohesion.
Sharing our streets, once dominated by cars, with sustainable alternatives not only helps to reverse the damage to our climate but also improves our overall health and wellbeing.
80% of toxic gases like NO2 are directly linked to roadside traffic. Not only are we breathing in these fumes which can harm us, but we are also damaging future generations to come. Studies by Kings College London have found that such pollution is reducing the lung development of children and increasing the diagnosis of lung conditions such as asthma.
Our actions speak louder than our words. While people talk about wanting a greener, healthier alternative to the car, our behaviour is saying otherwise. A commute to work by the car might save you a few minutes but doing so has a cost of a few minutes to both your own and someone else’s life. We are not doing enough to reverse the damage; however, we are never too late to start.
Some authorities are already laying down the framework for change. Innovative plans laid out by Cardiff Council’s White Paper in 2019 is an example of taking action to reverse the damage that we are causing and promote a pedestrian-friendly, local transport and cyclist promoting approach. The Welsh Government is also taking steps in the right direction, promising a White Paper on a new Clean Air Act by 2021. But unless we all work together, we will not bring about a systematic change that will benefit us all across Wales.
Our behaviour is vital; the pause in our usual daily activities has highlighted the benefits that charities, including ourselves, have been calling for, for years. Our recent research with our beneficiaries has noted an improvement, not only with overall air quality but with their lung conditions too. They are already breathing better through healthier lungs.
The decision to pause wasn’t made out of our free will, but our behaviour going forward will determine how we all live and breathe in our cities and towns going forward.
These seven steps aren’t an easy fix, they will require us all to make major changes to our lives, but they are seven steps in the right direction.
@norman_mathew / @lungwales / @asthmauk