Monitoring air quality is done in almost all the cities of Europe. However, to use it in an integrated way with transport and urban planning is a step towards understanding the negative impacts and the complex relation between health, transport and urbanisation.
For years, the city of Liepaja was lacking data about the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions in the city centre. One monitoring station was not enough for building the picture on how traffic influences air quality.
During the SUMP process, the city decided to do a pilot action in air quality monitoring and assessment and feed the information into the new plans. Samples were collected from five different places in the hearth of the city centre. It also included modelling the measures with the traffic flows during the summer months. Nitrogen oxide (NOx) dispersion was also monitored.
“We wanted to take this particular topic into account in planning streets and areas with cleaner air with the measures we already used”, says Dace Liepniece, Head of Environmental Department.
“Air quality management is particularly crucial in cities like Liepaja with irregular location of industrial, green and residential areas for securing sustainable development.”
The pilot action included results, modelling and proposals for the city administration, pointing out where the hot spots are. In the implementation of SUMP, actions should be targeted to these particular areas. “It is very important to prepare this kind of process well in advance - and then take it to the general public and politicians for further decision-making ”, Liepniece concludes.
Presenting the result to the media increases the understanding of the direct health impact of traffic and makes it easier to implement unpopular traffic measures.
Photo: City of Liepaja