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Traffic blocked off as families reclaim B140 St Paul's Way for a 'clean air' festival

PUBLISHED: 10:25 27 June 2019 | UPDATED: 10:35 27 June 2019

Hoola-hooping in St Paul's Way... you couldn't do that with the usual traffic. Picture Rehan Jamil

Hoola-hooping in St Paul's Way... you couldn't do that with the usual traffic. Picture Rehan Jamil

© Rehan Jamil

Traffic was blocked off along the busy St Paul's Way when 1,000 people turned up to 'reclaim' the street.

Children join mums and dads for dancing in the street at St Paul's Way Festival. Picture Rehan JamilChildren join mums and dads for dancing in the street at St Paul's Way Festival. Picture Rehan Jamil

The families of Bow Common came out on Sunday for dancing in the street with a band performing live, as well as children's games, roller skating and lots of food.

The festival promoted 'Clean Air Day' to raise awareness about air pollution.

St Paul's Way was transformed into a garden filled with performers, dancers, games, cycling and skating.

The street garden was designed by Public Works art and architecture practice that has built a 'green wall' and anaerobic digester in Poplar.

Children on the run in a street garden created by Public Works arts and architecture practice. Picture Rehan JamilChildren on the run in a street garden created by Public Works arts and architecture practice. Picture Rehan Jamil

The normally congested B140 linking Limehouse and Bromley-by-Bow was used by Tower Hamlets Council for an air quality pilot test last year with pollution monitors attached to lamp posts.

Levels of nitrogen dioxide from exhausts regularly exceed EU legal limits in the East End, the authority maintains. Worst spots in London include the A12 Blackwall Tunnel approach road, the A13 East India Dock Road and the Aldgate one-way system.

But there was no such bad air on Sunday when the people took over St Paul's Way.

A performance stage was set up by the Poplar Union arts and cultural organisation for live music and spoken words.

No buses, no cars, no lorries... just people and an ice-cream van in St Paul's Way. Picture: Rehan JamilNo buses, no cars, no lorries... just people and an ice-cream van in St Paul's Way. Picture: Rehan Jamil

It featured the Grand Union Orchestra, Drumworks, Afro-Brazilian percussion group Dende Bloco and Spotlight youth group.

Yet the street festival wasn't just about stopping the traffic for day. There were promotions by E-Cars with electric cars for hire, cycling by Tower Hamlets Wheelers and Sustrans charity, roller-skating by the Skatefresh group and activities by Friends of the Earth and Reclaiming Streets.

Sunday's festival was organised by Poplar Harca regeneration organisation and St Paul's Way Trust with funding from the local authority's 'Breathe Clean' campaign fund.

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