Pedestrians cross a street next to the light rail trams in Jerusalem May 11, 2017. Picture taken May 11, 2017. .
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
The Jerusalem Municipality has approved a plan to expand its existing city center “clean air” zone to the whole city, it announced on Tuesday.
The City Council voted in favor of modifying a December 2017 municipal bylaw establishing a “reduced emission area” in the city center, expanding it to the entire Jerusalem area and updating the municipality’s definition of a “polluting vehicle.”
The aim of the new measure, the municipality said, was to improve air quality across all of Jerusalem by limiting the entry of heavy and polluting diesel vehicles into the city. It also follows a May 2017 government decision calling for the reduction of transportation-related air pollution in Jerusalem.
“Transportation is one of the primary sources of air pollution in city centers and population centers,” said Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion. “Pollution endangers the population and leads to an increase in morbidity rates. The updated plan will lead to improved health and life quality for the residents.”
The zoning designation of “reduced emission area” – entry to which is marked with road signs specifying entry restrictions for polluting vehicles – will now apply to all areas under municipal control. The definition of a “polluting vehicle” will be updated in accordance with national clean air regulations that began in 2012.
“Public health precedes everything,” said city councilman Arye King, in charge of environmental protection at the municipality. “The plan to reduce emissions from transportation is a significant component of our efforts to protect public health, while minimizing impact to daily life. All residents and visitors to Jerusalem will benefit from this.”
Supporting the municipality’s initial efforts, the Environmental Protection Ministry agreed to provide assistance worth NIS 5 million for the reduction of transportation-related pollution, and an additional NIS 5m. for the construction of nighttime parking lots for public transportation, including electrical charging infrastructure for buses.
Alongside the updated plans, the municipality has also introduced a program to assist owners of polluting vehicles in installing particle filters or in scrapping their vehicles to ensure compliance. Enforcement will be ensured through cameras monitoring vehicles entering restricted areas.
In addition to expanding the program, the municipality also highlighted a range of extra measures taken to reduce air pollution in the capital city.
Actions include the construction and expansion of the Jerusalem Light Rail, restricted entry for private vehicles into the city center, adding bicycle parking racks and cycling lanes throughout the city, and the use of solar energy for streetlights and public buildings.
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