On October 1st, the 2015 Complete Streets Forum brought together a range of stakeholders to discuss the challenges and opportunities for building complete streets - which included academics, urban planners, health experts, community organizations, pedestrian and cyclist advocates. The INHALE Project led a unique afternoon workshop titled “Taking it to the Streets: Using Citizen Science to Advocate for Great Streets.”
You may be asking, “What exactly are complete streets and why do they matter for air quality?” In most urban areas, transportation is a leading contributor to air pollution. Complete Streets provide more opportunities for active transportation that promote cycling and walking, and more reliable public transit. Complete streets also incorporate more green infrastructure including trees that improve air quality and provide many other benefits.
Heather Marshall, from INHALE Toronto and the Toronto Environmental Alliance, and Linda Lukasik from INHALE Hamilton and Environment Hamilton, led participants in a hands-on session on community air monitoring session.
Walking through the U of T campus, down through residential space and up University Avenue, through the hospital district and up to Queen’s Park, we gathered data on the local air quality, exchanging ideas and noting the changed of readings as we went. Once we were back in the conference room, we downloaded the data from the monitor and GPS, uploading it to an online map. Participants were able to see how the process worked, from turning on the devices, to downloading the data, to translating it into a meaningful form that could be shared with a community and lead to dialogue on issues of local air quality.
Transportation, green space, infrastructure and construction all influence street-level air quality.
Complete streets bring many benefits for our health and wellbeing. They are good for our air, they are good for our communities, they are good for our health and our environment. As more and more people take to the streets with INHALE in Toronto and Etobicoke, we’re excited about how the data will help communities advocate for streets that work better for all members of their communities.
Head on over to our resources page for information about complete streets and other air quality solutions.