Cars could be banned from one of Dundee’s most polluted streets under “radical” plans being considered by the council.
City development convener Lynne Short said the city centre would likely be “reshaped” to discourage the use of conventional cars and encourage an uptake in public transport and cycling.
Ms Short said that while plans were at an early stage, unconventional measures were being considered by council officers.
“There are a number of options that we will look to explore, looking at places such as the Seagate,” Ms Short told the Tele.
“At the moment, it has very narrow pavements and a very wide road, so it could have a completely different shape in the future to encourage active travel.
“That all depends on funding, of course. Could it be an EV (electric vehicle) and bus-only street? Could it close to vehicles at certain times of the day? There are so many different permutations but we have to be radical.”
Low emission zones (LEZs) are set to be introduced in Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen by the end of next year.
Councils will have free reign in how they implement LEZs and be able to set sizes and restrictions. They will also be able to impose fines.
The Seagate and Lochee Road regularly appear on air pollution rankings as two of the 10 most polluted streets in Scotland.
Gavin Thomson, air pollution campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland (FoES), said ideas such as banning polluting traffic were on the right track.
He said: “All of these ideas would be great for air quality. Dundee is in a unique situation in that its electric vehicle infrastructure is way ahead of a lot of other cities.
“Clean air initiatives may resonate with people.”
A likely end goal for Dundee will be encouraging active travel – leaving the car at home in favour of walking, cycling and public transport.
The council is endeavouring to improve cycle routes in the city with its Northern Links project, currently out for consultation.
However, with 18,000 people commuting into Dundee every day by car, Ms Short knows motorists need to be considered.
Ideas such as park and ride facilities – which were given a £3.5 million boost in the Tay Cities Deal – are still on the table.
Ms Short added: “Active travel is about making it easier to do things without taking the car, and we may have to reshape the city to facilitate that.
“If you have 18,000 people who park outside the city and come in by bus, that’s a winner in terms of reducing air pollution.”
As well as discouraging car use, Scottish ministers are targeting older buses, which can be just as bad for the atmosphere.
About £8m is on offer for Scottish bus companies to fit their older vehicles to meet the latest emission standards.
Xplore Dundee and Stagecoach are introducing new hybrid models which emit less harmful gases, and funding has been secured for hydrogen vehicles.
However, Neil Quinney of Dundee Cycling Forum believes “urgent action” is required by the council on a grander scale.
He said: “The World Health Organisation states there is no safe level for particulate matter pollution, a major source of which is from the erosion of tyres and brake pads.
“Due to this, we believe that to improve air quality in Dundee, we need fewer vehicles coming into the city, not just cleaner engines.
“This is why we need a network of high-quality cycle routes throughout Dundee to give residents and visitors the choice to make everyday journeys in healthy and sustainable ways.”