Friday, May 7, 2010

Smog Alert! Ride your bicycle.

May 1st was the start of smog season in Atlanta, and today we had our first orange alert smog day.

I know what you're thinking. Isn't it unhealthy to ride your bicycle on a smog day? The short answer is No. I have a research report if you're really interested. The slightly less short answer is that air pollution builds up in enclosed spaces close to busy roads. This includes homes and offices near these roads, and it also includes cars driving on the roads. Each car driver or passenger is traveling in their own little pocket of pollution. Bicyclists are also in or beside the road, but in the outdoor air. This lowers their exposure. They may be breathing more heavily, which ups their exposure, but not as much. Bottom line, your are better off on a bicycle than in a car. Walking is pretty good too, or riding a scooter or motorcycle. Trains are good, buses are a little more polluted. Tunnels are the worst place to be, by any mode. The absolute best way to travel is as a passenger as a bicycle (as a child for example).

Of course, the other point is that smog is largely a result of vehicle emissions. By riding your bicycle instead of driving, you don't contibute to smog levels. Every bicycle adds up!


  1. So far I've not considered life in Atlanta because of the smog. I have asthma.

    I'm curious about the research report, if you're willing to share it.

  2. Actually I have 3 reports (none written by me). I thought I had written a review of them, but I think it was just a presentation. I'll write a longer summary some time, but for now I'm happy to email the originals. If interested, post your email address or send it to "step-through [at] bellsouth [dot] net" (sorry about the spam prevention email phrasing).