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Air Quality campaigns for everyone

Car Free Day

Car Free Day happens on 22 September each year and aims to reclaim streets away from vehicles for people to use, by championing traffic-free city centres and promoting active travel. The most popular activities are closing roads to produce Play Streets and School Streets.

What we are doing for Car Free Day 2023

We waived the fee to close roads to enable residents to apply for a temporary residential road closure so that children can play in a car-free, safe environment. In response to applications, 31 Play Streets across the borough will be put in place over the weekend of 23 and 24 September 2023.

We have recently expanded our network of electric cargo bikes for hire scheme with six new sites, so that there are now nine locations across the borough. More information about the scheme can be found on the Our Bike website and we will be running pop-up events at schools this autumn to show-case the cargo-bikes and answer questions.

We are running a poster competition for schools on the theme 'Drawing Breath', with prizes for entries in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 categories. Schools should have received the details via the school’s weekly eNewsletter.

We ask residents to consider leaving their car at home on Car Free Day and to travel actively or by public transport for short journeys if they can. Walking and cycling is a great way to celebrate the many benefits that travelling actively brings, which includes a positive impact on health and wellbeing, improved local air quality and reduced carbon emissions.

There are many schemes in the borough that can help you to swap the car for an alternative, both on Car Free Day and at any other time:

Schools could run a walking footprints lesson for Car Free Day and to advertise the date to parents and carers who can make the school commute more interesting with walk to school activities from Living Streets.

Previous Car Free Day events

View previous Car Free Day events.

Ask About Asthma campaign

The Ask About Asthma campaign will run from Monday 11 to Sunday 17 September 2023. The campaign aims to raise awareness about children and young people's asthma, improve young people's asthma care, and increase understanding that air pollution can trigger asthma attacks.

Find out more about the Ask About Asthma campaign.

Clean Air Day

Clean Air Day normally takes place on the third Thursday in June and is the UK’s largest air pollution campaign. It encourages everyone to take action to help reduce air pollution and usually involves hundreds of events around the country including many in our borough.

Clean Air Day - Thursday 15 June 2023

This year's theme was ‘Clean up our air to look after your mind this #CleanAirDay'. The campaign focused on the fact that cleaning up our air is good for us in many ways as it not only benefits our physical health and the environment but can also protect our mental and brain health.

See how air pollution impacts every organ in the body (pdf, 423 KB).

The physical health impacts of air pollution such as asthma, heart disease and cancers have been recognised for decades, but researchers are now beginning to understand how air pollution can also affect the brain and the mind.  People who are exposed to polluted air are more likely to develop mental health and brain-related conditions such as depression, anxiety and dementia. This is because when we breathe polluted air, fine particles that enter through our lungs can get into our blood stream and be transported to our organs, including the brain. 

What we are doing for Clean Air Day 2023

This year we held two events which we invited people living and/or working in the borough to join us for.

On Thursday 15 June we held an event at the forecourt of Richmond station which will included:

  • Resources on air quality in our borough – to ask us your questions
  • A free eCargo taxi service for passengers from the station travelling locally - provided by Peddle My Wheels
  • Dr Bike sessions – providing a free basic bicycle safety check for your bicycle to make sure it is running as smoothly as possible
  • Street performers entertaining with air pollution messages

On Tuesday 13 June we held an engine-idling action event in Barnes. At the event we:

  • Worked in pairs to engage with drivers in a friendly manner
  • Encouraged drivers that are idling to turn their engine off
  • Shared information about the impacts of engine-idling on our health
  • Asked drivers to ‘pledge’ not to idle again in the future

Please contact our Council Air Quality Officer if you would like to join us for future idling action events.

For Clean Air Day, we also:

  • Provided schools with free resources to hold activities and promote active travel for the school run and providing two schools that have school streets with entertainers to raise pupil’s awareness of Clean Air Day
  • Offered schools, especially those in areas with higher air pollution, the opportunity to participate in an air quality monitoring project
  • Encouraged businesses to work with suppliers and employees to help reduce their contributions to local air pollution

What you can do for Clean Air Day

We encourage residents and businesses to think and talk about air pollution, and to walk, cycle and scoot as much as possible if you are able to.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, being physically active is good for your mental health and well-being, so why not:

Use the Clean Air Planner (from Global Action Plan) to find out more about your personal air pollution including how to avoid polluted air and reduce the air pollution you create.

Talk to your friends and family about air pollution – you can find lots more information on our air quality pages including a map of nitrogen dioxide monitoring across the borough.

Take our Clean Air Challenge:

This year, Clean Air Day took place during Richmond’s Great Big Green Week (Saturday 10 to Sunday 18 June), a series of community events throughout the borough promoting positive behaviours around climate change and sustainability in the borough. Find out about the events taking place during Great Big Green Week.

Previous Clean Air Day events

View previous Clean Air Day events.

Idling Action Campaign

The Council has taken action on engine idling in the borough and we ask drivers to switch off engines when their vehicle is parked for more than one minute to avoid creating unnecessary air pollution. Idling action events have been held around schools, at level crossings and in Richmond town centre.

We are part of a coordinated London wide scheme tackling idling, called Idling Action. Together with the Mayor of London’s team, we work with primary schools to educate children about air quality, to raise awareness about idling and promote active travel to school.

Further information

For the latest information on Council-led campaigns, view:

Updated: 19 September 2023

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