Letter: Campaign to cut diesel emissions

The World Naked Bike Ride is an annual protest against car culture and oil dependency.
The World Naked Bike Ride is an annual protest against car culture and oil dependency.

I am one of the organisers of the Scarborough World Naked Bike ride.

The World Naked Bike Ride is an annual protest against car culture and oil dependency. It is also a celebration of the human body and aims to highlight the vulnerability of cyclists.

It takes place in around 20 towns and cities around the UK every year, and in over 70 locations worldwide.

The Scarborough ride which took place on Sunday had 24 riders, which is a great turn out for a first ride.

We had a good reception mostly, and we are hopeful that the ride will return to Scarborough again next year.

The Scarborough ride also has its own unique take on the theme, which is to draw attention to the dangers of diesel vehicles in particular.

We want people in Scarborough to be aware of this, and understand more fully why we did this naked protest and what they can do to help.

We wish to draw particular attention to the dangers of diesel vehicles. This includes, diesel cars, diesel vans, and many older buses, particularly those which are not the new Enviro400 models. Exhaust emissions from diesel vehicles contain 22 times more cancer causing particulates than petrol according to The Guardian, which is highly likely to equate to similarly massive amounts of extra cancers and deaths of members of the public in comparison to those related to emissons from petrol, or other more environmentally friendly vehicles such as hydrogen or electric cars, hybrids, and bicycles.

There is also no longer a reduction in carbon emissions from diesels compared to petrol cars, a 2013 study has shown.

We would therefore ask for all people in Scarborough and anywhere else, who are in a position to be able do so, to consider ditching their diesel vehicles as a matter of urgency.

Road vehicle diesel emissions also cause far much more damage than emissions from diesel trains, as the drivers, cyclists and pedestrians behind such vehicles are breathing the toxins in directly from the vehicle in front with usually very little chance for the fumes to dissipate in to the atmosphere before they are breathed in.

The combined effect of car manufacturers faking emissions tests, apparent increased sightings of black smoke coming from the exhaust of many diesel vehicles in recent years (which may be related), in addition to the fact that these vehicle’s emissions are known to be 22 times more dangerous than petrol emissions, is so extreme, that it has been estimated that we have reached the point where for every six people driving a diesel car regularly over their adult lifetime, at average mileage levels per year, one person will die as a direct result on average, due to illnesses related to air pollution such as lung cancer.

We hope this shocking revelation will make people think differently about using diesel cars. If one of those lifetime diesel drivers ran someone over and killed them, they would likely feel absolutely horrified, and extremely guilty. It would probably affect them profoundly for the rest of their lives. Yet by spending their life driving a diesel, they could be a lot more responsible for that level of suffering than they had ever realised.

We would also hope that people will put pressure on bus companies in Scarborough to upgrade their buses to the Enviro400 models if they are not using them or even consider a boycott.

Scarborough’s North and South bays have long been some of the most disgustingly polluted areas by the worst offending buses.

We would also call on Scarborough’s local MP Robert Goodwill, who is the Conservative Government’s Transport Minister responsible for such issues in the UK, to do more to reduce emissions from diesel vehicles in the UK.

This could be achieved by large tax increases on diesel fuel, which could be offset by tax reductions for users of other vehicles in order to incentivise a rapid shift away from diesel, as well as by reconsidering a diesel scrappage scheme the government had previously ruled out.

We should set the bar higher than the EU.

Alex Liberty,

organiser,

Scarborough World Naked Bike Ride