Poor air quality is a pressing policy issue that spans public health and environmental portfolios, and governments worldwide are investing in a wide array of measures to address it. This paper is a rapid review of the evidence behind air quality strategies and technologies. It was conducted according to the principles of a systematic review, and includes both academic and “grey” literature sources. It focuses on road transport in urban areas, because air pollution tends to be worse in cities, and the main source is fossil fuel vehicles. It draws on the environmental science and policy literature to provide interdisciplinary insight into the most effective air quality policy measures. The most promising initiatives include active travel infrastructure, roadside barriers, low emission zones, and low speed limits. Technologies which remove pollution from the air largely remain unproven, especially at the scale needed to make a significant impact. The combinations of policies from three cities which rank highly for air quality are reviewed; one important finding is that policies are most effective when they are a part of a mutually reinforcing suite of measures. Policies consistent across the cities studied are good public transport coverage, a good cycle network, and financial incentives for electric vehicle purchase.
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