Tips for Dog walkers in Edinburgh
The council's 'stealth policy' of displacement of traffic pollution FROM old main roads, those 'city centre main roads' that used to be the noisy crowded ones, to residential roads that are now the noisy crowded ones has one important aspect affecting ...... Dogs.
While city centre streets are cleansed to become leisure and event spaces open to more 'monetisation' by business (and of course the Council), one group of people may unwittingly be exposing their 'Best Friends' to a far higher level of risk as the old quiet streets increasingly become the new busy streets ------- Dog owners.
You may remember adverts about 'idling traffic' in which drivers were exhorted not to idle engines, and an anxious mother was featured quickly shepherding her daughter away from the dangerous fumes.
The focus was on a child because of the long standing knowledge that this pollution 'cloud' of dangerous particles, most of it invisible, is heavier than air. It really is more dangerous at 4 feet above the ground than even at 5 or 6 feet.
It is still dangerous at 5,6, or 7 feet above the ground, but it is more dangerous at 4 feet.
And more dangerous again at 2 or 3 feet where most dog's heads bob along as owners take them on daily walks.
If your dog is wheezing or breathing heavily it may not inevitably be due to traffic-created pollution of course, other things affects animal's ability to breathe (or thicken their blood and make them susceptible to strokes and heart attacks), but scientists are agreed that commonsense is right and the more pollution rises the more pollution is to blame when these conditions arise in humans.... and dogs..
If it is due to this cause there may be little you can really do to put it right. The best may be to just try and not make it worse.
So to try and avoid animals getting the same effects on their 'lung function' as humans do when exposed to he pollution, chronic respiratory conditions, thickened blood creating increased risk of heart attacks or strokes:
- TIP ONE Do not just keep on walking along your old walking route IF you notice significantly increased traffic, up from the old days back in the 1990s and early years of this century.
- TIP TWO Complain to the council about the fact that your old route along quiet streets has somehow become a lot busier than in the past.
They may not do anything because they have been doing nothing, except pay lip service to the problem for years, cleansing and quietening the old city centre main roads, knowing full well that, as no significant new roads have been built the traffic has no option but to go down Residential streets.
- This is because these streets cannot shift the traffic through and away as efficiently as old main roads (not as wide, more twisty and turning, more uncontrolled side street junctions where traffic.backs up from, and so on), which means the same amount of traffic creates MORE pollution than before.
- In recent years the city has been creating MORE pollution from LESS traffic.
- This traffic is no longer in the 'busy city centre' somwething anyone can see with their own eyes on George Street and Princes Street, as even the bus numbers on this street begin to fall But all the traffic that used to use these streets in 1995 or 2005 hasn't disappeeared into thiin air, It is being distributing across the new 'busy centres',most of these being the formerly quieter, dog walking streets in residential areas across the city. Where the air is getting increasingly 'thicker' every year.
Some apparently good ideas, and there is no irony here, because reducing the speed limit to 20mph IS a good idea, may actually make things worse for pollution. As 20 mph and below is the worst speed in respect of traffic creating pollution as traffic creates more pollution at these low speeds than at higher as the engines work less efficiently.
With 'lost life years' from traffic pollution predicted by many studies (one is the Institutue of Occupational Medicine a few years ago now) to be THREE times the lost life years from the effects of passive smoking AND deaths from Road Traffic Accidents COMBINED, one can see how complex this issue is.
But even though it is complex it CAN be addressed but only once the council admit that it is their unacknowledged but consistent policy of treating any traffic displacement as acceptable, and suppressing any mention of it to the public, that is largely to blame.
It's a Dog's Life for all of us trying to get a council mired in complacency and paralysed in denial about this issue to 'fess up about what is really going.
But once people understand the issues they can do something about it and they can complain to get the council to do something.
Dogs can't do this so it's why we have to do it for them.