What To Do About Diesel

A report by the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force reported that commuters get 60 percent of their exposure to harmful pollution during the 6 percent of the day that they commute. That's particularly worrisome for us as cyclists, since we have no filtering system like cars with air-conditioning. Apparently Columbus was one of the cities that had information gathered for the study.

There is talk about requiring soot-reducing mechanisms on all diesel engines, but we'll see how that goes...

The Record
Austin American-Statesman

Does anyone know anything about face filters or any such thing for cyclists?


  1. From what I've heard, masks only work if you aren't breathing hard - the faster you want to breath, the harder it is to pull air in through the filters (which makes sense). I was looking at buying a Respro Techno facemask a while back but the MEC salesman advised against it for this very reason.

    One other statistic I've seen bandied about is that car drivers tend to get exposed to more pollution than cyclists; since the air intake for a car is fairly close to the exhaust of the car in front, the fumes get sucked straight into the vehicle with the air filter only filtering out large particles. Cyclists (who tend to be higher and off to one side) don't get hit quite so badly. Breathing in through the nose in congested areas helps quite a bit, too.

    The best solution I've found is to ride on residential streets away from the vast majority of the pollution. I don't know how well that would work in Columbus, but here in Halifax I can get almost the whole way in with only a couple of km on busy roads.

  2. Thanks for the input. I'd read some of the same statistics about the drivers being more exposed, and that makes perfect sense. My personal commute doesn't allow me to take too many residential streets as I have to cross a river to get to my job, but that's good advice for those who have the option.

    I was also considering cutting it down a little bit by wearing a bandana, too... plus it'd give me a rakish, outlaw look as I was cycling along. ;)


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