Road closures in areas surrounding Huddersfield during the hosting of sections of the Tour de France cycling competition last month led to “drastic” reductions in air pollution in the region, according to Kirklees council.
The Tour de France is mostly held in France, but certain early sections of the race were held in the West Yorkshire and other parts of the UK in 2014.
Therefore, with international cyclists racing through areas surrounding Huddersfield in the Kirklees region, dozens of roads were closed to the public on July 6.
But an “unexpected” consequence of these road closures, according to the council, was that routine air quality monitoring showed a “drastic” decrease in the amount of air pollution on this date.
The council said this proved that “car use has a drastic effect on air quality” and hopes that hosting the event will encourage more people to consider undertaking more of their journeys by foot or bike.
Kirklees councillor Steve Hall, cabinet member for environmental health, said: “We noticed a striking difference when the roads were closed to traffic. The drop in the pollution level was dramatic and immediate.
“The unusual situation created by the visit of the Tour de France highlights how our car use affects pollution levels and shows the benefits of cycling and walking. I hope that one of the legacies of the Tour de France is to increase the number of journeys, particularly those done by commuters, completed by cycling and walking which will benefit people by increasing fitness levels through exercise but also improving the quality of the air we breathe.”