Cyclists who ride faster inhale more toxic air pollution

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How fast do you cycle around a busy city centre? 16mph? 20mph if the traffic lights are kind?

A new study from the University of British Columbia says that cyclists who ride faster breath deeper, thus inhaling more toxic air pollution.

Therefore, the scientists recommend that cyclists of both sexes over the age of 20 should keep to 9.3mph to reduce the damaging effects of increased pollution in the lungs.

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Female cyclists under 20 should keep to 7.8mph, and males the same age at 8.3mph.

It adds that the maximum speed cyclists should travel at through city centres or on congested roads is 12mph.


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Professor Dr Alex Bigazzi, the lead researcher, told the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation, of which the study was published in, that “the MDS (minimum-dose speeds) align pretty close with how fast most people actually travel”, adding “if you move at much faster speeds your inhalation of air pollution is significantly higher.”

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However, the study which used data from more than 10,000 people, and reports that the quicker people ride, the less they are actually exposed to road smog.

Professor Bigazzi also conceded that travelling faster has the benefits of being exposed to polluted air for less than if riding at a slower speed.