How many lives has the lockdown saved due to decreased levels of pollution?

After eight weeks of confinement in Spain, we are now finally able to go outside and get some exercise in the fresh air, and I do mean fresh. According to the European Environment Agency, Nitrogen oxide levels decreased by 75%, sightings of rare wildlife increased and the seas are cleaner, causing sightings of shoals of dolphins to swim up and down the Valencian coast. Outdoor exercise is permitted between 6am and 10am and 8pm and 11pm. Now is the time to enjoy a great post lockdown bike ride to get some truly fresh air. If you don’t have a bike, BikeAlao currently has two bike rental shops in Valencia. You can rent a bike by contacting us by Whatsapp or via the website. We also provide e-scooter rental in our Ruzafa and Cabanyal shops.

In the first 4 months of 2020 Covid-19 took over our lives, caused us to close our businesses and lock ourselves in our homes. Sadly for over 27,000 unlucky people, the virus took their lives. The death toll can only rise, but hopefully the health system is now better prepared.

Lockdown has been a challenge for everyone who was affected, none more so than in Spain, which had the toughest restrictions during this time. Most countries allowed outdoor exercise but in Spain this was punishable by a large fine or imprisonment.

If any positives can be taken from this it could be that we had time to reflect and take stock of our lives, contact loved ones using technology, and above all, we saw how the polluted air basically cleaned itself up due to lack of traffic and industry.

The World Health Organization states on its website that each year around 7 million people die as a result of air pollution. To put this into context, in the same 4 months of this year 2.3 million people could have died because of pollution. This represents more than 10 times the Covid-19 fatalities, which we see in red each time we turn on the television. Now, if we speculate a little with these numbers and assume the air has been cleaned by a high percentage (75% in the case of nitrogen dioxide produced by cars), what if many more lives have been saved as a result of the lockdown? There is some piece of mind to be had if we believe that regardless of whether the virus returns, we have saved thousands of lives by not using our cars.

Valencia city council has outlined plans to make much of the city centre pedestrianised. This is a good first step. Anyone who has been out during the allotted exercise timetable will have noticed how much space there is without cars. Unfortunately, the cars are now coming back.

In a time when we now have to maintain a distance of 2 metres, surely a great way to achieve that would be to pedestrianise almost all of the roads in Valencia and encourage cleaner and healthier transport. This way, not only can we keep the virus at bay, we can keep breathing clean air and enjoy our city to the fullest.

Enjoying Valencia by bike