As the spring-summer city air gets warmer, the effects of air pollution, namely car fumes, are heightened. Sadly, until they ban private cars in inner-city London there’s very little that can be done to entirely prevent this, however, there are a few things that city cyclists can do to make their route more pleasant and in an attempt to protect their lungs:
- Don’t sit behind traffic: wherever you can help it, get to the front of the line of traffic at lights & junctions. Cycle boxes are available at most lights. Overtaking on the right is perfectly legal and indeed encouraged for cyclists (think of all those “cyclists do not pass on the left” stickers). Get in front of the fumes if you have to wait instead of sucking them right up.
- Get a mask: there are various views on which are the best so shop around. Popular brands are Totobobo and Respro. This article does some research.
Downsides: they can be pricey, a little sweaty and the filters do need changing regularly. Upsides: cleaner lungs, fewer complications for existing conditions (major one being asthma).
- Have a wash!: you’d be surprised by quite how grubby you get riding through the city air. Give your pores a chance by washing your hands and face on arrival. It’ll cool you down, too.
- Don’t overdo it: sure, this one’s hard when you’re running late for work but on the way home, when you’re running errands or taking a leisure ride, try to take it at a sensible pace thus lessening the necessity for deeper breaths of unclean air.
Ultimately, keep pressing local MPs and government for car-free Zone 1 (at least)- another piece to come on this. You don’t deserve to have to inhale dangerous levels of toxic fumes just because you ride.