George Square was buzzing with excitement today as Glasgow got behind Clean Air Day with a free event showcasing exhibits and activities dedicated to improving air quality.
Kick-starting the day with Roseanna Cunningham MSP (Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform) were keen environmentalists from Garnetbank Primary School whom, assisted by air quality experts Ricardo, learned more about the impact of road traffic on air quality and how to take air pollution measurements.
The occasion which highlighted the importance and benefits of clean air, proved very popular with children and adults alike, with many making the most of the festivities and taking the opportunity to find out how they could help to make our air cleaner and healthier.
Pupils from several of the city's primary schools who have been working on air quality projects in the classroom, were invited along, some of whom arrived in George Square by walking bus supported by the charity Living Streets.
To reduce noise and pollution from traffic on the day, the road outside of the City Chambers was sealed off and transformed into a relaxing picnic area which proved popular with the crowds who stopped by to enjoy lunch.
Amongst the attractions, were low emission buses operated by McGill's, First Glasgow and Stagecoach which meet the strict emission standards of Glasgow's recently introduced Low Emission Zone. Also pulling in the crowds was an exciting array of electric vehicles of all sizes including a Renault Zoe, Hyundai Kona, and the iconic BMW i8, as well as motorbikes and a taxi. All you need to know about car clubs was catered for too, with Enterprise and Co-Wheels on hand to supply information and answer questions.
Adding to the range of sustainable travel options available to explore, visitors to the Square were also able to find out more from Network Rail about the redevelopment of nearby Queen Street Station.
For those keen on cycling, there was the chance to have a spin on an electric bike and to make a smoothie drink using a specially adapted exercise bike. Next Bike were also on hand with their e-bikes, highlighting active travel alternatives and explaining more about their innovative bike sharing scheme.
Clean Air Day in George Square also showcased the Avenues programme, a £115 million City Deal scheme that is creating an integrated network of pedestrian and cycle priority routes in our city centre, making active travel easier, safer and more attractive.
Excited school pupils were able to take part in a scavenger hunt around the Square to ensure they got the most out of the experience and for the more adventurous amongst them, there was the chance to test their cycling skills on the twists and turns of a BMX pump track.
After taking in the sights and visiting the many attractions, Councillor Anna Richardson, said: "Clean Air Day is a fantastic, free, way to find out more about the practical steps we can all take to reduce air pollution, and it's been wonderful to see the Square so busy with people keen to find out more.
"Poor air quality has negative health impacts, particularly so for the most vulnerable and therefore it's of vital importance to raise awareness and seek out what can often be simple ways to make the air cleaner and healthier for everyone.
"The introduction of our Low Emission Zone last year, which complements our broad range of air quality initiatives, shows our resolute determination to tackle air pollution in Glasgow."
Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham said: "For the youngest and oldest in our society and those with existing health conditions, the impact of air pollution is particularly pronounced. Clean Air Day is an opportunity to discuss the importance of clean air for everyone.
"Generally, Scotland's air quality is good. The quality of our air is improving and we are meeting many of our statutory targets, however, we aspire to have the best air quality in Europe and polluted air remains a feature in the centre of our towns and cities, largely due to transport emissions.
"Glasgow was the first city to establish a Low Emission Zone and I'm delighted to join Glasgow City Council, Environmental Protection Scotland and pupils from Garnetbank Primary to celebrate how transformative actions such as LEZs can help our cities to improve the quality of our air in places that we live, work and visit."
Linda Reed, Headteacher at Garnetbank Primary School said; "We're delighted that our school has taken such an active role in the Clean Air Day event in George Square. Our children are fervent environmentalists and the opportunity to conduct air quality testing with Ricardo was one we were keen to take up, complementing our class based activities on pollution. The children have had a wonderful time in George Square today, taking in all of the attractions that offer solutions to help clean up our air."
Clean Air Day is being coordinated by Environmental Protection Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government's Cleaner Air for Scotland (CAFS) strategy. John Bynorth, Policy and Communications Officer with Environmental Protection Scotland said; "It was hugely important for the pupils of Garnetbank Primary School to share their experiences of learning about air quality with the Cabinet Secretary as children are more likely to be affected by air pollution than adults, especially those with respiratory conditions such as asthma.
"We all have to consider whether it is necessary to use private diesel and petrol cars to move around, particularly for shorter journeys which account for 65% of all car trips in Scotland.
"It takes action across all levels of society to improve air quality and the enthusiasm shown by the crowds who visited the stands and displays to find out more about walking, cycling, active travel, electric vehicles and the latest low emission buses shows we have a golden opportunity to transform our cities and improve public health."