Frequently Asked Questions
What are the risks of air pollution to cyclists? Would travelling outside of rush hour or along less congested roads significantly lessen any of the risks?
There is, at present, no clear answer to this question and we are unable to comment on the different levels of risk to individual persons. Cycling is becoming more accepted as a solution to urban air quality problems and is recognised as a healthy form of exercise. It has been suggested that to a healthy person with no respiratory problems, the benefits of cycling may outweigh the effects of air pollution. Levels of pollution may be higher in the centre of the road leading to greater exposure to drivers than to pedestrians and cyclists.
However, increased pulmonary ventilation might increase the effects of air pollution on cyclists. Levels of air pollution are generally higher during peak times at roadside monitoring locations but local and weather conditions can affect the rate of dispersion. Levels of ground level ozone can be higher during non-peak periods particularly in hot weather. You may want to read the Defra publication on Air pollution and Health.
The Environmental Transport Association have some information on cycling. Any individual particularly concerned might consider speaking to the GP.