Cyclist's absorption of pollution can double on high-traffic str - KPTV - FOX 12

Cyclist's absorption of pollution can double on high-traffic streets says new PSU study

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People typically choose to ride their bicycles on quiet streets to avoid cars.

Now there's another reason to avoid busy main roads.

They will absorb significantly less air pollution, according to a new study conducted by a Portland State University doctoral student and two professors.

Their study, just published in Environmental Science and Technology, found Portland cyclists can inhale up to twice the concentration of air pollution on high-traffic streets than on low-traffic streets.

“Even just one ride, you can have significantly less pollutants in your body if you maybe have to go a little out of your way but you take a low traffic route,” said Alex Bigazzi, who conducted the study while pursuing his doctorate at PSU in 2013. He is now an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia.

Researchers knew streets with less traffic had less pollution than busy roads, but they didn’t expect to see such a significant difference in the amount of pollution cyclists absorb on busy roads, said Bigazzi.

He hopes the study will encourage transportation planners to include more options for bikers that are not on busy streets.

“We want to provide as many low traffic bikeways as possible,” he said. “So just putting, say, bike lanes on arterial roadways isn’t enough. We also need to have low traffic options for people to get around.”

He pointed to Southeast Ankeny and Southeast Clinton in Portland, two streets where cycling is prioritized, as good examples.

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