Speed bumps may disappear in bid to cut pollution

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Speed humps approaching a pedestrian crossing outside Rhws Primary School in Rhoose, Wales, where a car flipped over and injured children and adults. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June, 20, 2013. See PA story POLICE School. Photo credit should read: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Speed bumps may soon be no more on British roads as part of the government's plan to cut pollution.

It has emerged that the unpopular bumps are actually bad for the environment as they create higher levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Councils have now been told that they can remove speed bumps.


The bumps are said to double emissions by causing vehicles to slow down and speed up. Research by scientists at Imperial College London showed a diesel car emits 98 per cent more NO2 when driving over speed bumps compared with speed cushions – smaller and narrower speed bumps that large vehicles can straddle over and often don't delay emergency vehicles.

The government report into pollution showed that many of Britain's roads were now well above the legal limit of 40 microgram of NO2 per cubic metre. Leeds and Sheffield have been named as air pollution 'blackspots', although most UK cities now breach the legal air pollution limits.

Environment secretary Michael Gove yesterday told councils they should "optimise traffic flow", which could be done by changing road layouts, such as altering traffic lights and removing the speed bumps, dubbed 'sleeping policemen' by many.

The news came after yesterday's government announcement that new cars fitted with petrol and diesel engines will be banned from 2040.

Simon Williams, a spokesman for the RAC, told the Daily Mail: "We welcome the news on speed bumps, but we still need traffic-calming measures.

"Some speed bumps can be too severe, so from a road traffic safety point of view, speed cushions will be more effective. I think motorists will welcome this."

By Ted Welford