12 March 2008

Cyclists Can Breathe Easy

Sideslide
A Dutch study has proved, yet again, that the level of dangerous microparticles are higher inside cars than on bikes.

I posted about how Traffic Kills More People Than Traffic Accidents before, but this recent survey reconfirms the science.

Despite the air pollution it is healthier to cycle in traffic than sitting in a car. The levels of particles in the air are greater inside a vehicle than on the bike lanes. So even though a cyclist breathes in more air than a motorist, the concentration of microparticles is lower for the cyclist.

The health benefits of cycling greatly overshadow the harm caused by breathing polluted air, the study adds.

The study was carried out by Gerad Hoek from Utrecht University and presented in the magazine for the Dutch cyclist organisation, Fietzersbond.

If a cyclist wishes to avoid unhealthy particles, it is recommended that he or she avoids areas with heavy traffic and rush hour periods. In particular, avoiding trucks and scooters exhaust is of utmost importance. The scooter is the greatest polluter. A veritable microparticle factory, producing even more dangerous microparticles than even old trucks.

Perhaps parents who transport their children in cars could be penalised for doing so. Paying a Child Health Tax or something like that.

Michiel Slütter : 'Brommers zijn ultrafijn stofkanonnen'. Vogel Vrie Fietser no. 2. 2008, Fietsersbond, Utrecht

Ole Herten et al.: Skær 30 procent af forureningen. Cyklister nr 3. 2007, Dansk Cyklist Forbund, København

7 comments:

Anne said...

i've heard that older (two-stroke?) scooters are big polluters as well as being noisy, but is this true of newer ones as well?

Zakkaliciousness said...

apparently so, according to the report. I've read many similar studies regarding scooters and there is no mention of age.

Anne said...

Wikipedia reveals that the problem is in fact the two-stroke motor, a noisy and polluting technology also used in chainsaws, lawnmowers, and outboard motors (all staples of red-blooded American recreational life... sigh). but there's hope:

"varying amounts of engine oil in traditional designs mixes with the air-fuel mixture, which significantly increases the emission of pollutants. For this reason, two-stroke engines have been replaced with four-stroke engines in many applications, though some newer two-stroke designs are as clean as four-strokes. Government mandates, rather than market forces, have driven manufacturers to abandoning the two-stroke in spite of its clear power and weight advantages."

singlespeed said...

Here in Manila I wear a cartridge filtered facemask when I bike commute along the highway service road. I feel better when I get home. I don't get to have sore throat and carbon taste in my mouth after I ride.

There's also a growing number of scooters and motorcycles here, and when pacing behind them in traffic your face literally gets blasted with exhaust because of the way their mufflers are positioned....

spiderleggreen said...

Sooters are evil. I hope nobody confused scooters and bikes in terms of health.

tensimon said...

I used to ride a scooter, still do when the distances are long and make the bicycle impractical

(actually it's not the distance (17km), so much as that my office is at home and i need to do more work when i get home, I try to bicycle when i can but it eats into my office time)

but i agree, they are evil, even worse are 'big scooters', a 400cc engine to do essentially the same job.

Nowadays I ride my bicycle whenever possible, the scooter is for needs-must journeys only

Brent said...

A new study may contradict this finding:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7140213.ece