View Full Version : Is Cycling in the City really good for you?

12-08-2005, 08:54 AM
There's lots of promotional guff about how cycling in cities is good for you, good for the environment, how cyclists live longer etc...

But really I've been cycling in London since 1989 and I reckon, that on balance it's worse for your health than it is a positive influence.

The fulcrum to this is the fact that cyclists breathe far more air because they're exercising. You may theoretically be exposed to more pollution in a car (and I still dont believe this!) but you're not breathing half as much.

Furthermore a car's ventilation system may expose you to toxic gases, but in the main it MUST filter out airborne particles pretty effectively. That dust can't stay airborne in the car's more static filtration system.

Some people believe the answer is to wear a protective mask, but the design on these is REALLY APPALING. They're sweaty, uncomfortable and they hinder breathing, which if you're borderline asthmatic (er, like pretty much everyone who opts to use one!!!!) is the killer blow to their practicality. Actually I've thought up a way their design could be improved immeasurably, but that's all top secret bizniss.

As i say, there's loads of shite spewed online about the positive effects on health of cycling in the city (more often than not sponsored by well-meaning government sponsored quangos) but here's something a little more open-minded (http://draco.acs.uci.edu/rbfaq/FAQ/6.7.html) I discovered, though I disagree with the bloke's conclusion.

Cycling in London makes me sick!

12-08-2005, 10:33 AM
I cycled in London for the first time in months yesterday. The air was awful, it was as if I was biting chunks out of it rather than inhaling (my route was Kings Cross to Pall Mall via Regent Street - - busy). But it could have been worse: I know it's cheating, but my bike has a 200W electric motor in the front wheel which means I can keep exertion, and breathing, to a minimum if I want to. It also gives me an extra turn of speed when crossing junctions and pulling away from red lights, not to mention the way it slays hills. I didn't even consider cycling in London until I bought my electric bike. Cycling purists will no doubt pour scorn on electric bikes, but I don't think there's a better way to get around London.

12-08-2005, 04:43 PM
the reason that cycling is good for you is that its v cheap and fast in london. wear one of those altern8 face masks and not only will you be paying homage to everyones favourite type of music, but it might filter some of the shit out!

12-08-2005, 05:18 PM
filters will indeed only filter out some of the pollution, the heavier particles. I read somewhere a long time ago that in order to fliter out carbon monoxide, which is pretty much the worst thing you're inhaling, the masks would have to filter out oxygen as well - which clearly wouldn't be much cop!

16-08-2005, 09:55 PM
It's not the particulates you have to worry about in South London. No, it's nutcases armed with machetes.


Cyclist killed in machete attack
A cyclist has been stabbed to death with an 18-inch knife near a busy south London shopping centre.

The killer struck from behind as the man passed McDonald's, in Denmark Hill, Camberwell, on Monday evening.

Police said there was no obvious reason for the attack as the victim, 39, had not been seen arguing with his killer.

Witnesses described seeing blood all over the floor. Residents are being asked to check their gardens for the murder weapon, thought to be a machete.

Flowers have been laid at the scene, one reading: "I don't know who you was, but you didn't deserve this. RIP."

'A lot of blood'

Huseyin Mentes, 23, was working in a shop near the scene and said the first he knew of the attack was when he heard a woman scream.

"There was this guy on the floor. At first I thought he was having a fit because he was shaking and I didn't see the blood," he said.

"Then someone said he had been stabbed and everyone started crowding around. There was a lot of blood on the floor."

The suspect fled down Butterfly Walk and through a nearby shopping arcade.

A police spokesman said: "There does not appear to have been an argument or altercation prior to the stabbing.

"We are looking for a large 12 to 18-inch bladed weapon, possibly a machete, that we believe may have been concerned in the attack.

"It may have been abandoned in the area and we are asking local people to check their gardens and if they come across anything that resembles the weapon to alert police immediately."

The suspect has been described as a light-skinned black man, aged about 30, slim and wearing a yellow T-shirt, dirty jeans and a grey baseball cap.

The victim, who lived locally, has been formally identified in a post-mortem examination at Greenwich mortuary but his name will not be released until his next of kin have been informed.

17-08-2005, 05:18 PM
i initially read that as matches, and the actual truth isnt nearly as hilarious.

ideally more cycle routes away from roads need to be set up, but since this is virtually impossible in a congested space like london, and there's no call for it since not enough people cycle, it's not going to happen.

in other towns and cities in britain, i dont see why more people dont cycle, in the towns and cities i know well, there's plenty of alternative routes to cycle on that completely avoid major roads, and are almost carless in the city centre with large pedestrianised areas which are almost completely open to cycles.

19-08-2005, 12:45 PM
last nite on my bike - after a late one at work - with twinkling speculars from the streetlights rippiling the river over southwark bridge.

i got it - the music made sense - before it meant nothing to me.
was like a catalyst this cycling in london
good eah? believe..

20-08-2005, 09:27 AM
the argument about inhalation of pollution has been resolved as far i know. Pollution levels in a car are actually higher than outside where the air is moving, hard though that may seem to believe. Cyclists are exercising so any pollution is removed from the body at a faster rate. That said i do know people who suffer from respiratory irritation when in London on a bike.

The real danger to cyclists are getting knocked off, avoid the leathal combination of lorries and junctions and you'll probably be OK. Touch wood i've been cycling continously in London for 10yrs and haven't had a big incident yet.

Ness Rowlah
22-08-2005, 02:28 AM
There was a piece on this in The Sunday Times today basically saying that
cycling in London IS bad for you (heart disease), even if wearing a mask:


Jim Daze
01-09-2005, 06:08 PM
I reckon they should ban all non commercial traffic from central London for a start, and make black cab drivers ride a bike through town for a bit.

18-09-2005, 09:11 PM
Cycling may or mayn't be better for the individual in terms of pollution, but it is certainly better for the city as a whole.
A few weeks ago I spent a day cycling around Shanghai. It was like being a platelet in a blood stream. A grand tonic for the collective consciousness, and the environmental saving grace of that city.