The Sunday Mail’s coverage on October 24 of measures to alleviate heavy traffic in Limassol and Nicosia was welcome. However, the public health angle was hidden. Encouraging people to walk, cycle or take the bus will not only reduce Cyprus’ emissions but also improve health.
The World Health Organisation notes that nine out of 10 people worldwide do not breathe safe air and calls air pollution a public health emergency.
In an EU survey, Cypriots rated air pollution as their biggest concern after climate change. Cyprus already has a problem with naturally produced dust and particulate matter.
The onus is on us to reduce the particulate matter generated by anthropogenic sources, particularly by vehicles on the road. Reduce the number of vehicles coming into our cities, and health outcomes should gradually improve.
In Limassol, pavements are often unpassable due to cars and four-wheel drives being parked on them. This means that we have to walk in the road and breathe in exhaust fumes, which is a particular concern for toddlers in pushchairs who are breathing all this in while their lungs are still developing. In other countries, parents have campaigned to stop cars idling outside schools, which is often seen in Cyprus as drivers leave their engines running.
Other measures that could be considered are higher vehicle taxes for polluting vehicles, annual MOTs and improved (and enforced) pedestrian crossings at major intersections.
Claire Pillar, Silikou