One of the most recognizable features of London’s roads is the black cab – diligently ferrying tourists, residents and commuters around the city. Yet the interest in and development of environmentally friendly transport in our cities has begged the question, is London ready for green cabs?
Speaking to the Guardian earlier this month, Professor Frank Kelly, Director of the Environmental Research Group and Professor of Environmental Health at King’s College London, has called for a rethink on how vehicles are used on our roads. Not only is Professor Kelly in favour of the greener cabs being used in the future, but he has also stated that London’s roads need fewer vehicles in total.
From the beginning of 2018, new licensed taxis in London must be “zero emissions capable”, able to drive on electric power for at least 48km and with limited emissions. Vehicle manufacturer the London Taxi Company is rebranding as the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) and asking several London cabbies to test six of its electric and petrol-powered TX taxis on the roads.
London is aiming for “the greenest taxi fleet in the world”, with mayor Sadiq Khan acknowledging the city’s “filthy air is a health crisis that needs urgent action”. It is thought to cause nearly 9,500 premature deaths each year, while the UK has been in breach of European law regarding air pollution since 2010.
Professor Kelly said that while electric vehicles emit no exhaust fumes, they still produce large amounts of tiny pollution particles from brake and tyre dust, for which the government already accepts there is no safe limit. “The safe and efficient movement of people around the capital can only be achieved through a clean and expanded mass transit system – served by buses, overground train and the underground system – and by as much active transport in the form of walking and cycling as is feasibly possible”, added Professor Kelly.
With Transport for London championing Low Emission Zones and Zero Emission/Ultra Low Emission buses in the capital, transport in the city is likely to change further thanks to the research of academics such as Professor Kelly and those working with him as part of the Environmental Research Group.