The car is outstaying its welcome across the world’s cities as researchers have identified cycling as the most effective way to combat urban pollution, contributing to some seven million deaths every year.
Data from the World Economic Forum (WEF) revealed air pollution – much of which is spewed out by cars – is now the fourth biggest killer in the world after smoking, high blood pressure, and diet.
It contributes to more than seven million deaths every year, and with more of the globe’s population moving to cities, the number is set to increase.
The findings come as research by the Centre for Environmental Policy at Kings College London found cycling is by far the most effective way to cut pollution and boost air quality.
Providing 30 times more benefits than levies on old cars and attempts to promote electric vehicles, cycling was named by the WEF as the world’s best chance at reversing the impact of pollution.
The role of biking on improving health to be at the centre of discussions at the first global conference on air pollution and health, organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Taking place on 30 October 2018, the conference will discuss initiatives to reduce the impact pollution is having on the global population.
The conference also follows new data from WHO showing the world’s worst and best cities for air pollution.
The data shows Gwalior in India has the highest concentration of pollutants, followed by Allahabad – also in India, and Al Jubail in Saudi Arabia. The list of worst offenders also includes Novi Sad in Serbia and Cairo in Egypt. The top ten pollution hot spots include six cities in India, including Delhi.
The populated area with the cleanest air, meanwhile, is Bredkalen in Sweden. It’s closely followed by Finish municipality Muonio, Dias D’Avila in Brazil, and El Pueyo De Araguas in Spain.
At the scale of global regions, the highest amount of pollution-related deaths were shown to take place in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific region – each responsible for some two million deaths.
The Americas saw the fewest pollution-related fatalities, with 300,000 losing their lives as a result of pollutants in the air.
A green shoot of progress in tackling the issue is the increasing number of car-free cities springing up around the globe.
Ljubljana in Slovenia has been operating a city centre car ban for over a decade, Oslo in Norway is set to go car free in 2019, Spanish capital Madrid’s ban kicks in in 2020, while London, Paris, Copenhagen (pictured at top), and Athens have announced hefty controls to limit diesel cars in densely populated areas.