When Mark met Jamie: Talking Kassel

Alongside climate change, poor air quality and air pollution are now set to become defining issues of our generation, as statistics increasingly reveal the scale of the challenge ahead.

In 2016, the Royal Colleges of Physicians and of Paediatrics and Child Health released a grim report which directly linked poor quality air to about 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK.

The emissions from diesel vehicles as well as other non-electric vehicles play a disproportionate role in lowering the quality of the air. This is because they produce a series of toxic gases, including nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and lethal microparticles which can penetrate the lungs.

These are released into the surrounding atmosphere as they sit with their engines idling. Buses are a particular problem, as older buses are often diesel, and these vehicles remain in service for many years.

For each bus, this may only make a negligible difference. But when you consider that in the year ending March 2016, there were an estimated 5.04 million bus journeys, and that there are over 9.9 million older and disabled concessionary bus passes in use in England alone, suddenly it becomes clear that tackling the problems of these vehicles will be hugely beneficial to creating an effective clean air strategy.

Local authorities are under more pressure than ever to provide an adequate response to the problem, and perhaps now more than ever it is time to think outside of the box if the country is to improve the situation.

Criticism of the Government has been building over the past year. Before the General Election, the UK Supreme Court forced the Government to publish its national plan for air quality, as the problem was considered too urgent to delay.

 As recently as September, the UN called the problem of air pollution a “plague to the UK”. Hardly words of praise then.

Conventional wisdom is that only drastic action will make the difference when it comes to improving air quality.

At Brett, we take a different view.

Local councils and authorities looking to improve the air quality situation should begin by specifying Kassel Bus Boarding Kerbs as part of their clean air strategy.

On the face of it, this sounds like an odd solution to the issue of improving air quality.

The Kassel kerbs allow buses to stop almost flush with the kerbs, minimising and almost eliminating the gap between the road and the bus stop. This in turn means that passengers can quickly and efficiently enter and exit the bus, reducing the time that the bus remains stationary, pumping out toxic emissions.

This is where the benefit to air quality becomes more apparent.

The speed of access and egress, which is only made possible with Kassel kerbs, mean that buses remain stationary for a significantly reduced amount of time compared to when traditional kerb units are used.

This is a vital area where air quality improvements can be made. As each bus remains stationary, it pumps fine particles, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons into the lungs of bus-users, as well as the surrounding urban environment.

In this way, stationary buses pose an even greater risk to health than those which are on the move, as there is at least a greater separation of pedestrians and emissions in this situation.

By reducing the time that these buses come to a stop, we can effectively reduce the exposure of those nearby to these hazardous compounds. 

With their smooth 75° face and bottom end radius, Kassel kerbs have become highly popular because of their ability to provide enhanced safety for disabled, elderly and visually impaired passengers, as well as those with pushchairs.

When these benefits to clean air strategies are also considered, it is clear that local councils can easily incorporate Kassel into a broad road wellbeing strategy.

Millions of pounds are being spent on retrofitting buses with hybrid technology, to reduce the amount of emissions that they produce.

However, whilst local councils still have a large number of diesel buses, Kassel kerbs could have a hugely beneficial effect on a clear air strategy.

Please stayed tuned to the Brett blog to hear more from Mark and Jamie. Next month they will discuss Trief Containment Kerbs and how they benefit all road users, in their own unique style.