Author Topic: Biking to work question  (Read 2824 times)

Daisyedwards800

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Biking to work question
« on: April 21, 2016, 03:02:31 PM »
I biked to work twice this week.  I live in a big urban area but it does have bike lanes.  One thing I am concerned about is breathing in all the fumes of these cars stuck in traffic.  I spent about 10-15 of the ride in these situations.  Is there a risk of doing this?  Bike is total about 55 minutes.

robartsd

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Re: Biking to work question
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2016, 03:13:49 PM »
You're breathing those fumes if you're in an auto stuck in traffic, too! At least on a bike, you're passing the zone rather than waiting in it (but probably breathing more too). If possible, I'd look to ride on side streets to avoid it, but I do think that the exercise benefits generally outweigh the exposure risk. As you get used to cycle commuting, you'll probably cut your time down. I take that as 55 minutes round trip. If you're at 55 minutes each way an electric assist might be a life changer; where it might merely be nice to have at less than 30 minutes each way.

mskyle

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Re: Biking to work question
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2016, 03:14:33 PM »
I can't find a citation for it but I've heard you're actually exposed to more dangerous substances inside a car than you are outside a car. Now that I write it out it seems implausible though.

I think this depends a lot on whether we're talking like Delhi/Beijing levels of smog, New York/LA, or smaller city.

I don't worry about this at all; I don't think it's realistic to be able to exactly quantify the risk but I feel like the cardiovascular benefit of riding the bike probably outweighs the marginal increase in inhaled fumes. I ride 20 minutes, mostly next to slow/stopped traffic, in a breezy coastal city.

Daisyedwards800

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Re: Biking to work question
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2016, 03:16:08 PM »
Well otherwise I'd be taking public transportation

letired

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Re: Biking to work question
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2016, 03:23:05 PM »
I think about this when I'm gasping for air waiting at the red light at a the top of a hill next to the stopped-rush-hour-traffic highway. But like mskyle, I figure the exercise benefit outweighs the fume damage. I don't know that there is any independently verified answer to this one, unfortunately.

robartsd

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Re: Biking to work question
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2016, 04:09:03 PM »
I can't find a citation for it but I've heard you're actually exposed to more dangerous substances inside a car than you are outside a car. Now that I write it out it seems implausible though.
Why would that be implausible, outside you have outside air, inside you have a bunch of materials that may be off-gassing in an enclosed space 24 hours a day with the only source of "fresh" air being the outside air. The only way for the inside air to be cleaner is if the passenger air filter is very effective at removing the bad stuff. Furthermore, when I'm on my bike or walking along the street, my head is usually further from tailpipes than most car air intakes.

Jack

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Re: Biking to work question
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2016, 04:14:29 PM »
The other important difference is that cyclists tend to be in better cardiovascular health. I wouldn't be surprised if that more than compensated for any possible decrease in air quality.