Project: Air quality based green routing to instil citizen behaviour changes

This project, in collaboration with Colchester Borough Council, presents a case study for citizen behavioural change by comparing the air quality (as particulate matter and gaseous pollutants) for parallel bike and car routes in Cambridge and Colchester.

Cambridge street scene featuring a crowd of parked bicycles, a road with a cycle lane, pedestrians, and cars and historical buildings in the distance

Data visualisation

We collected and mapped pollutant data on parallel car and bike routes in the cities of Cambridge and Colchester.

The larger the blob on the map, the higher the concentration of pollutants in that location.

If you zoom in on the map, you can see that locations next to green spaces have lower concentrations of pollutants.

Explore our heatmap

Researchers have identified different factors associated with the health and wellbeing of urban citizens, the most important one being access to fresh clean air.

Air quality and green transport are discovered as major factors to promote healthy living, as well as being a major contributor to climate action. However, instilling citizen behavioural change and motivating the public to use green transport can be a huge challenge.

This case study collected air quality data across parallel bike and car routes in two UK cities - Cambridge and Colchester - to demonstrate the concentration of pollutants on these routes to instil citizen behavioural changes related to mode of transport.

It was run in collaboration with Colchester Borough Council and is intended to be presented to the public to motivate people to use bike routes in the city.

Data was collected for particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) and gaseous pollutant (NO2) at different locations on each of these paths, and aggregations of the concentration values were plotted on our heatmaps after analysis.

We observed that the NO2 concentration alongside road traffic is high compared to bike paths alongside parks and green spaces.

Apart from disseminating the outputs of the study to the general public, two journal publications presenting the results of the case study are under preparation:

  • Urban air quality comparison on bike and driving routes: A case study for UK - to be submitted to Sustainable Cities in December 2022.
  • Measurement, analysis and comparison of air pollutant data in urban areas - to be submitted to Sustainability in December 2022.

The team is preparing an EPSRC NI funding proposal to build on this project.

We have a VC-funded PhD student, as well as a few Masters students working on related topics for their academic projects.

The team is collecting more data to build urban spatio-temporal air quality prediction models and is happy to collaborate on funding and other collaborations.

Our team

This project is led by Dr Lakshmi Babu Saheer.

She is working in collaboration with Colchester Borough Council, other UK universities including the University of Cambridge and University College London, and collaborators in Mexico and India for bigger bid ambitions.