Enhancing the quality of life for the future with Low Emission Zones
Low Emission Zones (LEZs) are an important tool to improve air quality and protect public health in busy cities. There are now more than 300 LEZs throughout 15 European countries and the schemes are already proven to significantly reduce air pollution. LEZs were introduced in four Scottish cities in May 2022. Glasgow’s LEZ began enforcement on 1 June 2023, Dundee will begin enforcement on 30 May 2024 and Aberdeen and Edinburgh’s LEZs will be enforced from 1 June 2024.
LEZs will bring benefits in terms of improving air quality and protecting public health, but we all need to consider other sustainable travel options which can make us healthier and happier. There are so many ways we can all do this, and some changes are so simple you’ll wonder why you’ve never made the change before.
If you have the option, why not leave the car at home and see what public transport you can take to get to work? Even doing this once or twice a week can make a difference to the emissions that would come from your vehicle. Or maybe you could cycle to work and get some exercise in before you’ve even set foot in the office.
Using public transport or cycling to work will help reduce the number of cars on the road, reducing congestion, emissions and improving air quality. Plus, the money saved on fuel and parking will more than pay for the costs of public transport – particularly over time.
Alternatively, you could consider car-sharing. Simply ask around your workplace and find out who would be interested in car-sharing and work out how the logistics would work – if you’re all going to the same place anyway, why not reduce the number of unnecessary individual car journeys?
Working from home
While working from home can come with its own challenges, we all know the stress of the morning commute at rush hour. Working from home removes that stress entirely and can help us enjoy a better start to the day. It’s also a good way to ensure you have a positive impact on air quality as no commute is needed. If you drive to work, even working from home one or two days a week will make a difference and reduce harmful vehicle emissions from your commute. With the extra time gained, you could even start adding in more lifestyle changes that would further improve your health and wellbeing – this could be as going for a walk, run or cycle during your lunch break or after work, or even having an early morning workout.
The Scottish Government aims to get more people to make active travel choices such as walking, wheeling or cycling instead of taking the car for short everyday journeys wherever possible. This will help in improving people’s health and protecting the environment.
Funding is now at record levels to help local authorities transform communities into places which are easier and safer to walk, wheel and cycle. This includes more segregated cycle lanes, safer routes to school for children and more crossings and junctions which prioritise pedestrians as far as possible.
Many organisations offer cycle-to-work schemes, so why not find out if this is something your employer would offer? Walking all or part of your journey can offer a significant boost to your health and wellbeing. It lowers stress and burns more calories than you think! Every step we take is a positive step in the right direction for our health, air quality and environment. You can use that time to enjoy your favourite podcast or music – creating some time just for yourself as part of your journey.
By walking, wheeling or cycling for shorter journeys, not only will you be getting some exercise and boosting your mood, you’ll also be doing your bit to improve air quality.
LEZs are integral to the Scottish Government’s vision for a society that has a greater focus on the environment, health and wellbeing by encouraging people to make changes to how they travel around. These small changes can have a big effect on yourself and those around you and have so many benefits. If you want to keep up to date with latest news on Scotland’s LEZs, you can register for updates here.