Something I’ve been meaning to blog about for… oh, over a month. At the Climate Change forum last month, a question was asked about the car pollution impacts on cyclists. Elliot Fishman from the Cycling Promotion Fund (and who looks uncannily like my sister’s husband) replied that because cyclists are higher up, they don’t get that much car exhaust. In fact more goes to other car drivers.
As this New Zealand article says:
ETA (1997) reviewed over sixty studies of pollution exposure by different transport modes, and found that cars offer little or no protection against the pollutants generated by traffic. Most of the studies indicated that motor vehicle occupants face pollution levels inside a car two to three times higher than those experienced by pedestrians and cyclists, with larger public transport vehicles somewhere in between.
Partly it’s because the emissions stay close to where they come out of the exhaust, only to be brought into following vehicles. For myself, when driving in traffic, I often set the ventilation to recirculate — preferably before catching up to cars in front — and if needed I open the window a snadge to get some (hopefully) less-polluted air into the car.
Evidently a better way to avoid the foul air is not to be in a car at all.
On a related topic there was a comment on Top Gear a while ago joking about hybrid cars, along the lines of that you can stop your car engine when the car is stationary. Actually I do that at places like level crossings, where I know I’m going to have to wait a while — especially if I can hear a slow freight train coming.