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



Vickeree

Member
Mar 11, 2015
110
9
0
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...
 

Corzhens

Well-Known Member
May 26, 2015
1,287
126
63
No is my answer to the thread title. When we were living in the city, I would only use my bike sparingly. For some real bikign, we would go to the park or in the suburbs. Now that we are living in the suburbs, there is already pollution here due to the presence of vehicles in the main road that perennially cause heavy traffic. That's the reason why I would just bike inside the village most of the time. Again, the pollution will get you sick, if not kill you.
 

jhuskey

Moderator
Oct 6, 2003
10,605
337
83
Obesity is one of the biggest health issues now. Pollution does not create fat people
Next question.
 

Keyan

Member
Jul 7, 2015
368
20
18
If you are using your bike for commute to the city then you might be at risk of the air pollution just do your best to protect yourself from it. Keep a healthy and strong immune system and develop good habits. Pollution is beyond any single person's control but you can do something to protect yourself from it.
 

Corzhens

Well-Known Member
May 26, 2015
1,287
126
63
Keyan said:
If you are using your bike for commute to the city then you might be at risk of the air pollution just do your best to protect yourself from it. Keep a healthy and strong immune system and develop good habits. Pollution is beyond any single person's control but you can do something to protect yourself from it.
If you would read the thread city riding, it says there that pollution in the city (particularly here in Metro Manila) is terrible. That is the main reason why the motion for a carless day did not push through not because of people who do not bike but because even the bikers admitted that the pollution is hard to take. How would you bike for 15 kilometers to the office and another 15 kilometer back home with that pollution entering your lungs. No matter if it is a carless day, the particulates are still in the air.
 

Froze

Well-Known Member
Jul 13, 2004
4,712
375
83
NE Indiana
You don't say where you live, if you live in Mexico City or Peking China or some such place then yes it may be harmful on most days to do vigorous exercise outdoors, but in America the weather information system will alert locals of high levels of pollution and recommend for those type of people to stay indoor. We in America haven't had really high levels over a long and constant period of time since the 70's and 80's, today a notice rarely goes up, now only in big cities after a prolonged inversion layer with no wind to move it out forces the bad air to accumulate over a period of several days. If pollution for some reason scares you than ride your bike early in the morning and be done before the morning rush hour starts, this is also the best time to ride for allergy issues too, and you encounter less bugs.
 

joshposh

Banned
Apr 16, 2015
265
11
18
Just wear a mask while cycling. Breathing polluted air shouldn't be a factor at all. There should be a question as to which you should be leaning towards more.
 

9lines

Member
May 7, 2015
289
12
18
Why chose riding in a polluted environment. If you live in a polluted town, then avoid riding for long distances. We can also train indoors when we feel that it is not safe for us to ride outdoors. Benefits of riding cannot outweigh the harmful effects of pollution if we live in a densely polluted environment.
 

pwarbi

Well-Known Member
Mar 18, 2015
689
53
28
44
UK
When riding in the city I'll always wear a mask anyway, so for me the benefits certainly outweigh the disadvantage of riding in a polluted atmosphere.

Masks can be bought cheaply from most bike retailers these days so if you do a lot of urban cycling then that's your answer.

There's no need to give up the bike because of environmental issues, if you did, you'd be contributing to them.
 

Froze

Well-Known Member
Jul 13, 2004
4,712
375
83
NE Indiana
I remember living in the 70's and 80's in the Los Angeles area where you could only see the Hollywood sign once or twice a day and rode all the time without a worry about the smog or wearing a mask, today the air is dramatically cleaner and now you CAN'T see the Hollywood sign once or twice a year. I really don't think air pollution in America is anywhere near as serious as it once was, sure you should keep an eye on the pollution index but most areas will be more than rideable most times out of the year without fear of pollutants and having to wear a mask. The funny thing about living in smog back in the 70's and 80's...we're all still alive.
 

Sunflogun

Member
Apr 20, 2015
400
22
0
The benefits of cycling are not only physical, but also in our head, so definitely yes, I am way better cycling than doing nothing!
 
  • Like
Reactions: pwarbi

pwarbi

Well-Known Member
Mar 18, 2015
689
53
28
44
UK
That's a good point about the mental aspect of cycling as I think a lot of people will use their bike to be able to get away from the stresses and strains of modern day life.

While it's easy to look at the negatives, the positives cleary outweigh them as far as I'm concerned.
 

sunshiney

Member
Aug 19, 2015
268
22
18
31
Toronto
I think overall you're a lot better off getting the workout, even if it means breathing in some car fumes. If you're sitting in traffic you're likely getting all that stuff anyway, even if you're in a car, so at least on a bike you're still getting the physical benefits of the ride.

Beyond that, I think that a lot of people lead incredibly sedentary lives, and that's probably a more important problem for most people to tackle than the difference in exhaust fumes between being on a bike or in a car with the windows cracked. Obviously it's important to look after your respiratory health, and some cities are definitely a lot worse than others for pollution, but I don't think it's worth avoiding physical activity over. If it's something you're worried about I'm sure there are different types of masks you can wear to block out the worst of it, so you can have the best of both worlds :)
 

JamieThePooh

New Member
Nov 9, 2015
7
4
0
Vickeree said:
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...
I don't think pollution is a big factor when you are considering the benefits of commuting. While it is true that you can find cleaner air as you move further away from the city, when you're on the city, whether you are riding your bike, walking to work, or driving in your car, the air you breathe is more or less the same in terms of the concentration of pollutants. If the air being very polluted is an issue in your city, you have to take a lot more precautions in many other aspects of your life than just when it comes to commuting with your bike. If that's not your case then I think you don't have that much to worry about because you are reaping a lot of benefits from the exercise that could actually make you more resilient when it comes to diseases.
 

bykster

Member
Nov 11, 2015
190
20
18
I'm not really sure I can answer this question since I intentionally avoided polluted areas. I'm not sure how much I was actually able to avoid the pollution though. I deliberately took a half hour longer route so I can ride by the river on my way to work and I'd ride back the same way to avoid this problem.
 

pwarbi

Well-Known Member
Mar 18, 2015
689
53
28
44
UK
There's always masks as well to stop a cyclist breathing in the fumes, and while they might not be the most fashionable item to wear, neither are helmets so that shouldn't really make a difference.
 

LinB

New Member
Sep 8, 2015
58
3
0
So you're saying that even though cycling helps to build up our bodies, our exposure to the outside atmospheric conditions can increase our chances of inhaling too much pollution? I still say cycling is worth the risk.
 

pwarbi

Well-Known Member
Mar 18, 2015
689
53
28
44
UK
There's risk involved with most things in life if that's a route you want to go down, and even using a exercise bike at home you could risk over doing it and pulling a muscle, so in that respect they're just as risky.

It's important to weigh up the risks involved with anything but there's a great deal that people can get from cycling, and so for me, I concentrate more on the positive than the negative.
 

DancingLady

Member
Mar 9, 2015
226
11
18
That would depend almost entirely on where you live. Some large cities are so severely polluted that spending extra time outdoors is not healthy and may increase the risks of asthma and other respiratory issues. If the air quality where you live is reasonably good, it definitely outweighs it. It is always best to cycle away from the busiest streets to avoid breathing in excess exhaust pollution where it is most concentrated.
 

sharkantropo

Member
Apr 11, 2016
305
20
18
31
That really only applies where you live. If you are currently in the middle of Beijing, then of course, you will receive an unhealthy pollution intake. In that case, using a mask to cover you mouth and noses will solve the problem.