Ultimately in a system where people bid for housing this sort of thing is bound to happen. It's notably cheaper to live on a main road, near a pollution hotspot, etc; there's also commonly social housing in those sorts of locations, which makes moving less about marginal income and more about navigating a bureaucracy (if you're paying below market rent you may need double or triple the amount to move to a nearby privately rented place).
In my view we should heavily tax diesel cars out of existence, at least in busy cities. The alternatives are to either demolish large amounts of housing (the South Circular Road and A2 in London are lined with residential; so too are most major roads in the capital), to basically delete the road network, or to accept these deaths as a way of life.
I agree that National Rail pricing is absurd. We should fix that. There's this silly two-tier thing going on whereby getting a journey within the Oyster zone is trivial and getting one outside (i.e. most of the bloody country) is this escapade of finding advance tickets, finding the cheapest time, etc.
Ultimately though, things are going to get more expensive. A poster below commented something along the lines of "so only the rich should drive in London" - and that's what's going to end up happening, unless you ban driving entirely, which would be the nuclear option.
Not all problems, particularly those to do with pollution, have an easy "everyone wins" answer. It might just be the case that things we previously considered normal and standard just won't be possible if we want to preserve health and the climate.
There are stations like the ones you're suggesting. Forest Hill has free on-street parking less than five minutes from the station, but that would increase journey time significantly with the switch to another mode of transport with family in tow, and make a day trip much less feasible.
Fair point about some things not being possible though. Better to reduce the number of people travelling if it means a much cleaner, healthier London. I've even considered trying to commute to London from Brighton via bike during the summer, staying a night with a friend and riding back the next afternoon... That would be much nicer if I didn't feel like I was inhaling exhaust fumes for half the journey.
(Feels like it'd be a bloody pain to drive to from Brighton!)
The last part of your comment is what really hits home for me.
People driving private cars around damage other modes of transport. Cycling becomes less pleasant (near passes, inhaling shit, etc); buses are caught in congestion; everything becomes less dense; etc.
(Sydenham is OK as a backup - a bit further south of the station on the side roads. Not as convenient as Forest Hill though!)
Edit: I seem to remember a study about health of cyclists (although don't have the citation so take with a pinch of salt) and it was universally better except in cities. Either crashes, pollution, or both, meant that cycling didn't make a difference to cyclists' health overall.
Please just use the train.
I disagree with your point about public transport massively improving since the congestion charge though. In what respect? I've been regularly travelling in London since the mid 90s and haven't really noticed much beyond the re-opening of what used to be the East London Line. I get the feeling that things are starting to improve now, after some serious public investment, but it still feels like too little. Until peak-time commuters aren't packed into trains like sausage meat I doubt much will shift in terms of behaviour.
Buses have improved, there are far more though I wish they were electric.
At the moment it only covers a very small area of the central congestion zone (smaller than Zone 1).
If anything the pollution there is likely to become worse as it forms the official diversion.
We already see this; Marylebone Road, the current northern boundary of the ULEZ and Congestion Charge zone, is one of the most polluted roads in the capital.
I work around there. Me and my team actively avoid walking along the main road for that reason.
 Ultra Low Emission Zone https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone
I never noticed this. Is there some reason for it or just your general impression?
These people are effectively in a sort of rent-control style scenario in which moving out and in to privately rented accommodation might mean doubling the rent and moving from a stable long-term tenancy to a yearly thing.
They technically have the ability to move whilst being heavily discouraged from doing so.
This is quite different to, for example, someone who owns or rents a house that costs 25% more than an equivalent one in a side street, say. It's more of a cost benefit analysis for them.
There is however the issue still that eventually, someone is going to end up living there, because housing in London isn't going to be left empty if it exists.
Strong opinion you have there. How much do you know about Diesel engines that utilize DEF? And how do you weigh NOX output against that from a petrol engine?
Or do you have strong opinions without knowing the actual science behind this? Because I’d like to see your sources that show modern diesels should be taxed out of existence.
Edit: Nope, turns out I received no support for the argument at all but rather OP really just means for all cars to be banned or at least taxed so only rich people can drive in London. Because when I go to Singapore with its like tax model I see equality, and opportunity!
A blue-badge style disabled exemption, and more frequent inspections for things like emergency services / trade vehicles. Done.
The diehards can use electric cars if they wish.
Lewisham/Hither Green, where this girl lived, has frequent trains into Central London (15-20mins), buses all over the place, and Google Maps' current estimate to cycle in to London is 33 mins (vs 36 mins for driving).
Basically any hour of the day people will be rattling up and down the South Circular, up and down the rat runs, etc.
I used to live near a long arterial road. I would do things like count the cars whilst waiting for the bus. It had buses every 15 minutes, and between each bus you'd have way more cars than the number of people that would fit on a bus.
Unless we say they just wouldn't make that journey otherwise, increasing taxes on private cars can help with the transition that could make that bus every 7 minutes instead (which would eventually be self fulfilling due to fare intake).
You're right about the buses and passenger number, but I don't think they'll easily replace fast rail routes. I used to live in Forest Hill, which has the south circular running through it. I tried taking buses into the centre of town but it took ages, although I suppose you might be able to run "express" buses with fewer stops if there was more space on the road.
I just hope that whoever the mayor is during the next few administrations uses the ULEV to exponentially ratchet up the pressure on cars, so there's a breathing space that can be filled by public transport before people jump to electric cars and we end up with both cleaner air and less congested roads.
- I've driven in from Leeds and am going to Brighton and it's cheaper than the train?
- I could go by bus but it would be 50 mins as opposed to 20?
- I just want to drive my car and I don't care?
- I've got a case of champagne I need to get to a friend?
- Something else?
It's pretty mysterious. Mind you these days it's hard to tell if a car's a taxi or not with Uber and things but I wonder if the Mayor's office has any data on reasons for vehicle use?
I own a car and have used it to drive in on occasion just because I can. It's fun to roll about the streets and do stuff like drive down Shaftesbury Avenue.
This is precisely why taxation is necessary, because people don't realise that what they're doing is an issue in aggregate. If you had to pay the cost of a taxi to get to the local supermarket then people would figure out alternatives like cycling/taking the bus fairly quickly (and the supermarkets would adjust their business models, you'd see smaller ones more dispersed).
I think part of the issue is that people can't seem to juggle the concept of something being fun and good but ultimately damaging. I might enjoy a pint every now and then, but I'm fairly happy about the fact that we tax it.
Why? Why not change motability so that it only includes electric vehicles?
Or are you suggesting banning all vehicles? In that case what's wrong with public transport/mobility scooters?
I'm not sure that mobility scooters / wheelchairs would be adequately handled by all public transport at the moment even in London, there would probably be a lot of repressed demand, or people would just stay indoors.
A 60-person bus might have one or two wheelchair spots; a mobility scooter won't go on them at all; I very rarely see either on the trains despite it being technically possible. A lot of tube stations are not step-free.
I'm not suggesting banning vehicles; I'm suggesting taxing them appropriate to the damage they cause so that fewer people see "go for a drive through tons of residential streets" as a normal / accepted thing to do.
Both petrol and diesel cars pollute above acceptable levels, I'm not willing to accept that a car with "reduced pollution" is clean when alternatives are readily available.
That’s exactly what you just did when you said electric cars would be ‘ok’. In 2015 less than 25% of power was renewable generated in U.K.
So pardon me, but my problem isn’t with your lack of understanding on the topic - it’s that you have strong and seemingly contradictory opinions that directly relate to what should and shouldn’t be “taxed out of existence”.
I might be more forgiving if you say what you mean up front instead of moving goal posts.
In this case, I think your original post you should have said “I think only rich people should be allowed to drive in London”.
Has someone explained that to you as what a “steelman” argument is?
I think that the externalities of private ICE cars should be priced in.
It is absurd that I can drive an ICE car about in London for an hour for less than the cost of a pint.
Unless your job requires driving, there’s no incentive to drive in central London. It’s slower than public transport (slower than even waking on some streets), more expensive than public transport and more stressful than public transport.
Then nobody does it?
There's no incentive (other than a bit of ephemeral fun) for a person to drink until they pass out, but people do it anyway.
Humans are not perfectly rational utilitarian beings - and we shouldn't be. There's nothing wrong with a bit of fun here and there.
But when that fun negatively affects others (and tens of thousands of fume belching cars driving through your street as a rat run certainly falls in that camp) we should act.
People do drive in London, so they have their reasons (however unreasonable they may look to you). And probably “fun” is down on the list.
Unless you think, Berra-style (https://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/08/29/too-crowded/), that nobody drives in London because it’s too congested. But in that case there would be no need for congestion zone charges to de-incentivize something that nobody was doing anyway.
Clearly there are going to be people who fall outside of that group and still choose to drive. As I said in my other post, you’ll always get statistical outliers. But for the vast majority of people who live and/or work in London, we will use public transport, bike, or walk. Some of us might drive into Greater London and pick up the Tube. But very few of us would contemplate driving into central London as part of our daily commute.
You can defend that charges, restrictions and other disuasory measures are a good solution to diminish the use of private vehicles and its impact. But it doesn't make sense to say that those people have no reason to drive in central London unless they are paid to do so.
For what it’s worth, part of my commute is via car too. However I do then get the train into central London. So I would still be classed as a driver
For example: "Our findings add to the growing body of evidence that air pollution may play a role in autism, as well as in other neurodevelopmental disorders." 
1 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_pollution#Health_effects
The peak is at 623¹ in 1891. After another minipeak at 409 in 1935, it went down fast to 26 in 1994 and is now 16.
That's not to say this isn't a problem today. But it was much worse in the past, and this girl is far from the first to die from it.
¹ suspended particulate matter (SPM), measured in micrograms per cubic metres
There is no hard line between someone who has rolled the dice on bad odds and come off badly, and someone who has rolled the dice on moderate or good odds but still come out badly.
For this girl, there likely would have been genetic factors or simply bad luck which compounded air pollution, but it’s difficult to say that air pollution didn’t contribute significantly as one of the causes of her death. And that is important to know, to be able to reduce deaths and ongoing poor health in the future.
As electronic medical records become more prevalent, this is going to become more important. For instance, you could look back through patients with a cause of death like this, and pick out the frequency and timing of hospitalization as linked with local episodes of air pollution, that could then be used to inform advice to patients currently suffering from the same symptoms in the same pattern. You could essentially join together medical care, epidemiology and public health in a symbiosis which could be hugely beneficial.
Some days HN goes from its usual baseline mechanical callousness to outright horror film.
Back to the topic, I wish we could ban diesel ASAP. I passed through Oxford Street a few times when it was virtually shut off by the protesters last month, so none of the diesel-burning black cabs not busses were there. It was much, much more pleasant than any other busy London street, almost serene, if there were not that many shoppers...
Removed from that though, you only need to make a few assumptions to come to the conclusion it would be anyway.
If we assume, say, that people would prefer to live on a side street over a main road, and then away from a junction rather than on a junction, from that it stems that it's going to be cheaper to own/rent a place in the most polluted areas.
There are differences in income and wealth by race.
The specific London problem is traffic, and maybe added to by the current fashion for log stoves. You get the constant thick taste of the fumes about 10 miles outside the centre, and it's there permanently.
Just about everywhere inside the north and south circular, which is more like 4 or 5 miles outside the centre, is badly polluted, but the south circular exceptionally so - it's almost constantly gridlocked and wasn't built for the volume of traffic it has. South Circular makes it sound like a major road or city motorway - it's used as one, and was probably intended to one day be rebuilt as one. Except it's just a regular one lane each way street for most of it, with lights and junctions, and lined with houses and shops.
So dirt and grit if you leave windows open, or washing out, black gunk in the nostrils and the constant taste.
Locals get used to it to some extent. It strikes us every single time we visit the relatives down there.
Does the U.K. not have similar rules, or are all of these just grandfathered in?
"...the burning of solid fuels (such as house coal and wood) in our homes is the largest contributor of harmful particulate-matter (PM) emissions."
"This makes up 38% of our national PM emissions while, in comparison, industrial combustion is 16% and road transport 12%."
Wood stoves appear to have side-stepped much of our clean air legislation which is woefully out of date anyway. Coal fires have become fairly rare over the same period, so that's mostly down to wood stoves. Haven't heard of any requirements for catalytic converters, which seems a sensible idea.
In my lifetime we've gone from almost nowhere selling wood except wood yards, to everywhere does - mainly in the last 10 years - garages, corner shops, supermarkets. In neat little single use plastic bags. This government has lost 3 court cases on air pollution, and their current targets kick out real action well into the long grass: 2030.
CO2 is something entirely different.
Particulate filters I think are required to be fitted for the last 10 years or so, the problem is they require frequent high speed travel to function properly, and people have routinely removed them.
Seems like you haven’t been to the UK or Europe. The London busses and cabs are really bad. Plus all the other diesel cars with NOx emissions way past the legal limits.
Edit: I see many people here like fireworks. But if we as humanity can’t handle this crazy stupid pollution source, we also cannot do anything else. Forget handling diesel car pollution or improving public transport.
Sensationalism is the biggest threat to people accepting climate change in a wholesome way. Take a stand. End Sensationalism.
Also by the same logic, heart attacks do not kill, the resulting oxygen shortage does. Correction, it isn’t the oxygen shortage, it’s some chemical reaction in your brain cells that causes irreversible changes (experts in the field likely can split this in a sequence of multiple events)
If you take this chain to the limit, you end up with “you die because your cells die”, which is almost circular reasoning.
I think what matters is what’s the root or at least primary cause. If a child has asthma, would easily have survived in a normal (already polluted) city environment, but died because of living in an extremely polluted neighborhood, I would agree taking that as the cause of her death.
Back to the cheeseburger example: “died of overeating” (if eating a lot in a short time frame caused the heart attack) or “died of obesity” (if eating too much over a long period stressed the heart too much) could, IMO, be better descriptions than “died of a heart attack”
If someone illegally dumped radioactive waste next to your home, and you don't move either due to inability or some other reason, the crime does not magically fall on your shoulders.
So that's precisely why blaming pollution might be sensible. Can you actually force all parents to move away from a polluted area? Or can you punish a diesel truck driver for driving in a legally designated area? Taken to the extreme, can you change the laws of the universe, or its initial boundary conditions?
Probably not, but you can certainly change pollution limits and enforce them.
Deaths generally have multiple causes and complex chains of events leading to them, and we have a rich history studying the relationship between how an actual event happened (a girl dying) and where we assign the blame (pollution). If you think that the slippery slope will lead us to blame ignorant parents or a random diesel truck, well, that way to assign blame isn’t supported by theory or precedent.
The parents wouldn't be blamed because they didn’t have any particular duty to move somewhere with less pollution, just like you don’t have a legal duty to avoid getting murdered by moving to a lower crime area (the idea that you would assign blame here to the parents is legally ridiculous). The diesel truck wouldn’t be blamed because it did not contribute significantly to the death, you wouldn’t reasonably suppose that whether a particular truck drove down a street would make the difference between someone dying from asthma or not—after all, if that particular truck didn’t, then another truck will, later.
Blaming pollution is well-founded—there are legal limits on pollution which were violated (there existed a legal duty to keep pollution below these limits), the pollution was a significant contribution to the death (without the pollution, the death would be much less likely), and the contribution of pollution to the death was natural and foreseeable. These three things together are key elements in fault.
There are a number of hypothetical (and real) cases which you can use to illustrate all of these factors working together. For example, Alice breaks into Bob’s house to murder Bob, she waits in the closet with a gun ready to jump out and shoot him. When she closes the closet door, it knocks over an umbrella. Bob comes home, trips on the umbrella, hits his head on the floor, and dies. Alice acted with intent to kill Bob, and has in fact succeeded (her actions caused Bob to die), but the chain of causality between her actual actions (knocking over the umbrella, which Bob trips over) is not something that someone would reasonably expect to cause someone to die, so Alice is not in fact guilty of murder (again, even though she acted with intent to kill Bob, and did in fact cause Bob to die).
Entities abusing shared resources for economic gain is hardly a new concept and most definitely NOT absurd. Even the most conservative of economists will be able to discuss the Tragedy of the commons, a concept dating back to the 1800s. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons
Economics aside, she was a 9 year old girl - think on that for a bit. Listen I don't know who you are or where you're from, maybe you have a good reason to hold this point of view... but the only way things are going to get better for everyone is if we all have a little empathy for each other.
The reality is, I think most people don't realize how hard others have it, and how non-trivial such things can be for those in more dire straits or those that are more destitute. These are simply not options for many folks. Where's the money to move, to relocate, the wherewithal? The sheer number of factors that tie people to less-than-ideal places can be daunting, and those not living in that kind of squalor are sometime oblivious...or lacking the empathy, to understand its rarely that simple.
In some cases there are going to be some extenuating circumstances that prevent things like moving. For instance, extreme disability is one possibility, though that does not seem to be the issue in this case. The mother seems able, younger mid aged, and had 3 children. If she was disabled in any significant way, the media pieces and her crowd funding would also have mentioned that, to further draw at pathos.
Ultimately you cannot discount the fact that there are many negligent parents. In this case the parent is claiming, in her crowd funding page , that she only realized pollution might be a trigger for her daughter's asthma, after she died. Quoting her, "Since her death I have become aware of the dangers posed by air pollution and discovered that our home, located approximately 25 metres from the South Circular in London, was a known air pollution ‘hot spot’ and started to put two and two together. ". It's insane and inexcusable that somebody can have a daughter with severe asthma and not realize pollution and fumes can trigger it. That's something any 10 second search on asthma would turn up.
 - https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-many-times-the-aver...
 - https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/airpollution/
> It's easy to live outside of a heavily polluted area if you have severe asthma.
Most people can't just move, but it's easy to just move?
I am straining to maintain the notion of civility that HN demands, so I will only ask you this: what bent you to make you think this sort of thing is reasonable or okay or decent?
Breadth of viewpoint is important, but I reject the notion that HN is somehow closed-minded because "perhaps it's the nine-year-old's fault?" gets a measure of incredulity.
Her mother noticed that the air pollution levels were above the legal limit and wants to put the blame on someone, maybe even get damage.
There is no single cause of death. The question is which one to choose.
I wonder what cause of death is mentioned when someone allergic to peanuts eat peanuts. Is it "peanuts", "peanuts allergy", or "anaphylactic shock". The first one is the trigger, the second is the underlying condition, the third is the symptom. All the three should be valid.
We kind of do though, it's not the case for all of them but poor nutrition has always been linked with cardiovascular issues.
It's like if you said, "nah he didn't die because he smoked 5 packs a day, he died of lung cancer"
For death by firearm discharge, the coroner would indicate W34, X74, X94, X95, Y35, or Y36 (depending on the reported circumstances: suicide, homocide, legal action, or war).  This cause of death is readily determined by the autopsy and reported immediate circumstances.
Changing the cause of death to air pollution rather than asthma (J45) requires lengthy investigation into years of the deceased's lifetime. It would be infeasible to use that as an actual classification.
An actually comparable (and practically relevant) situation is changing cause of death from lung cancer (C34) to smoking. "Smoking" is not a cause of death recognized by the CDC, WHO, or any other health organization; it's a underlying factor. This is why you'll see statistics on smoking-related deaths.
In both cases, powerful parties have a huge incentive to use semantics to excuse the blame that should rightfully be placed at their feet.
Which is why it's outrageous to use the phrase "respiratory failure" to imply that this is clickbait and not a real issue.
Is this irony?
Edit, to add: just because something is true does not make it relevant. It is true that if this woman never would have been born she would not have had respiratory failure caused by pollution and this article never would have been written... but how is stating that helpful?
I do not claim to know what is the author true intention or whether its helpful or not.
> [..] he is told that his friend has died of "heart failure." It is only later that he realizes that all deaths can be described that way.
But isn't "air pollution" an overly ambiguous cause of death?
Could be lung cancer, injury, asphyxiation, etc.
It seems a bit like listing "sugar" as the cause of death.
It seems there was legislation, enacted to protect people, that was ignored for years. The child’s death was not of their own doing, so I’m not sure why folks are even mentioning sugar or cheeseburgers.
Asthma is induced by both genetic and environmental factors.  So air pollution causing asthma is hardly a stretch. Especially if you've been exposed 1/3 of your life at such a young age. She was 9 years old. Having developed lungs and going into that area is majorly different than developing lungs in that area.
Example: If a person made to ingest something that leads to immediate cardiac or respiratory failure we call it "poisoned to death".
Same for "being stabbed" rather than "cardiac failure due to blood loss"
ICD-10 has X85 "Assault by drugs, medicaments and biological substances" and X99 "Assault by sharp object". 
But it is unprecedented (AFAIK) to specify an external cause that is so far removed from the point of death.
E.g. assuredly people have died from the long-term effects of tanning, but "sun tan" is not considered to be a cause of a death.
It's a bit dramatic, but could also be useful?