Does The Benefit Of Cycling Outweigh The Harmful Effects Of Pollution?

Discussion in 'Commuting and Road Safety' started by Vickeree, Aug 7, 2015.

  1. Vickeree

    Vickeree Member

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    Does the benefit of cycling outweigh the harmful effects of pollution... since we probably take in more polluted air than the average person on commute as we push on the pedals and huff and puff on our bikes...
     
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  2. gavinfree

    gavinfree Member

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    Why would cyclists wind up inhaling more pollution than the average person? I'm going to assume that most of us don't live in heavily polluted areas, so this isn't even a big issue. If you live in a polluted area, then you have to be careful and time your rides to when pollution is likely to be lowest throughout the day on any given day. The benefits outweigh the risks for 90% of cyclists.
     
  3. Damien Lee

    Damien Lee Active Member

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    I'm fortunate to live in area that has very minimal air pollution and plenty of green areas. I guess that's one of the advantages of living in an African country. I have traveled to Europe on several occasions, and have noticed that cities there are incredibly congested with cars and the air always has that dank and unpleasant smell. However, things did improve in smaller European villages and towns and the air felt closer to home. Nevertheless, cycling regularly has so many health benefits that I don't think a country's air pollution should be an excuse in not cycling.
     
  4. sunshiney

    sunshiney Member

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    I'm lucky to live in a place that doesn't have a lot of air pollution, although if you're commuting with traffic you're bound to inhale a certain amount of fumes. No more than someone walking or driving with their windows open though I would think.
    Unfortunately I think a lot more people would have to commute by bike in order to outweigh the damage of air pollution.
    I've noticed there definitely seems to be a push however towards encouraging cycling, carpooling, or riding public transportation.
     
  5. gavinfree

    gavinfree Member

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    On a related note, it's funny how much pollution we could eliminate by driving our cars even 10% less than we currently do. That would have an immediate impact on pollution levels, although the most impacted areas wouldn't become clean-air meccas suddenly. The pollution isn't terrible in my city, although it depends on where you are, I guess.
     
  6. gavinfree

    gavinfree Member

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    Then again, you'll get tons of pollution in your system if you're driving behind a big semi-truck or something like that, even in the otherwise cleanest cities and towns. Overall pollution figures make a difference in a given area, but concentrated exposure can be even more dangerous. I'm assuming that most of us don't ride behind semi-trucks and breathe in exhaust fumes for no reason, though.
     
  7. Vickeree

    Vickeree Member

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    In my city I think it's essential to wear mask or head buffs and cover your nose and mouth with it to protect yourself from all the smoke coming off the vehicles on rush hour. A good indicator of the amount of pollution I get is the boogers in my nose at the end of the day hehe. They get all black compared to other days when I don't inhale as much fumes or when I wear a protective mask, it does restrict the breathing tho and is somewhat uncomfortable. Do any of you wear or use air filtering mask?
     
  8. Steve Dawson

    Steve Dawson New Member

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    You're going to breathe in pollution if you live in a city anyway. Its true that with increased exercise and deeper breaths that you may well be taking in more of it, if thats a concern for you, you could always wear a paper mask over your nose and mouth, like the ones you see people in South-East Asia wearing on the streets to avoid germs. Theres no doubt that the benefits of the exercise you're getting will outweigh many of the more unhealthy things you do and If you're concerned about it, just ensure that any negative effects connected to your cycling are minimised as much as possible so you get the full benefit from the activity.
     
  9. briannagodess

    briannagodess Member

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    According to this study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2920084/ the benefits of cycling far outweigh the effects of air pollution. In general, car owners are more exposed to pollution. But then with increased breathing and ventilation, the cyclist is exposed to a higher dose of pollution. But the good news is that, the benefits of cycling are about nine times larger than all risks including pollution inhalation and accident occurrence.
     
  10. Jcycle

    Jcycle Active Member

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    Where is the evidence cyclists don't take in more pollution? Assumptions like that are nothing but FUD.
     
  11. JSWin

    JSWin Member

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    Its better not to live in the pollution. All around it is so bad for you. I really didn't have any idea how it effects you. The fresh air is considerably better for you.
     
  12. tlspiegel

    tlspiegel New Member

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    Instead of riding on busy populated streets, try riding on back streets instead of the main roads. Residential streets will have a lot less traffic.

    If your city has bike lanes or bike paths, definitely choose those for better air quality.

    If you can, ride when the ozone layer is at lowest from early morning to mid-afternoon.
     
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  13. bykster

    bykster Member

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    Yeah, back streets can be a fun place to explore as well. You set out to ride and you end up in a whole new part of town and that's just cool. I only cycle in the busiest streets when I have to, but I usually go outside of the city or the riverside which has a dedicated bike path and no cars so it feels pretty good to ride out there.
     
  14. mayasupernova

    mayasupernova Active Member

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    Yes it is true that the pollution is bigger in the cities due to the exhaust pipes, car, factories, etc., which means that citizens are in a dangerous place where they inhale a great deal of smoke every day, especially when they ride a bike. However, a biker sometimes has a choice. If you cycle for fun, as a hobby, a choice, etc., you as a biker can always opt for cycling in the suburban areas, use back roads, as someone has already mentioned, and just avoid the city as much as possible. If you use your bike to get to work, well...then I guess, you have to realise, it is inevitable to inhale a polluted air.
     
  15. pinkride

    pinkride New Member

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    I guess the benefits from cycling in heavily polluted cities are not worth it. I live in a rather small city and there is very little pollution from exhaust pipes, but even there I try to avoid commuting in the center of the city anyway.
     
  16. BikeBikeBikeBike

    BikeBikeBikeBike Well-Known Member

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    Don't follow the logic.
    If anything, riding a bike will reduce the amount of bard air your cities has, as you are leaving your car at home and not polluting.
     
  17. pwarbi

    pwarbi Well-Known Member

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    As others have already said, if you live in a city your going to be breathing in pollution anyway, and that's why a lot of cyclists these days use masks.

    More and more people taking up cycling will reduce the amount of pollution, but in the end I think it will always be a problem because more people than ever are also passing their driving test aswell.
     
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  18. integrity101

    integrity101 New Member

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    Well unless you live in a heavily polluted metro or normally ride with your face fixed to exhaust pipes of old trucks ahead of you, I don't think you face greater risk due to pollution than the average joe. If anything the physical exercise your riding gives you makes you a healthier person than the regular commuter. Cycling also allows you to take detours away from the heavily polluted highways. You can always use the route that takes you through the park or any greenery in your town.
     
  19. pwarbi

    pwarbi Well-Known Member

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    At the end of the day, pollution in built up areas is going to affect everybody from the pcyclist, to the person walking on the pavements to the car drivers stuck in traffic with their car windows open, so if we're all affected to a certain degree, I know which form of transport I'd rather use, and that's why I've been commuting to and from work by bike for a number of years now.
     
  20. Ladyferoz

    Ladyferoz New Member

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    It depends on where you live. I live in China, and some days get so bad I would not dare to go out, let alone go cycling. I have a PM2.5 mask when I do go out. I cycle for the convenience but I do not know if I am gaining anything else besides saving money
     
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