This is meant for all you brave urban bicycle commuters, who expose yourself to the hazards of city traffic at the worst times of the day. But it also applies to anyone who rides their bike in an urban environment.
There is a simple way to protect yourself (besides wearing a mask, which could help you too) from the worst effects of automobile exhaust. And you should take this seriously.
According to the American Lung Association, exposure to air pollution is one of the major risk factors for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), secondary only to smoking cigarettes.
COPD may not kill you for years, but it will sap your strength, crush your ability to work and play, and basically suck all the joy out of your life.
It's ironic (and sad) that by making a noble effort to improve the overall air quality, you expose yourself to the worst air pollution. But you can help minimize the problem by using a simple math formula to your advantage.
We're talking about the inverse square law, for you math people. What this means is that if you can double your distance from the tailpipe of an automobile, you're only exposed to one fourth of the pollutants. If you triple the distance, you're only exposed to one ninth. Get four times as far, and only a feeble sixteenth of those toxic fumes will ever have a chance of reaching your lungs.
There's an easy way to ride your bike far enough from commuting cars that you can cut out 50%, 90% or even more of the pollutants you would have been exposed to. Every city or town has busy streets that are jammed during rush hour traffic. These are usually the most direct routes, but you don't need to ride your bike on them.
Just find a parallel residential street (or if you're downtown, try to pick a route that runs through parks and alleys), and only ride on the main streets when you need to.
This could add a little bit of time to your commute, but the benefits of biking this way will add to your lifespan.
Disclaimer: I am not trained in medicine, and this information is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Always consult with a physician before participation in any physical activity.
This blog is not in any way affiliated with the American Lung Association. All opinions stated here are my own, and do not reflect the views of the American Lung Association.