It would seem that a face-mask might become the second most important piece of bicycling equipment after the helmet.

Researchers from the U.K. reported on a study that found people who regularly commute by bicycle in London have much higher levels of black carbon particles in their lungs than people who regularly commute on foot in the same area.

Ten healthy, non-smoking commuters (five cyclists and five pedestrians) coughed up sputum samples (gross!) and researchers then analyzed the airway macrophages in the samples for soot content. The cyclists’ macrophages contained 2.3 times more soot, on average, than the walkers’ macrophages did.

Which begs the question, what’s a macrophage?

Immune system cells that line the surfaces of the lower airways and deal with foreign substances. And two possible reasons suggested for the difference: cyclists breathe more rapidly and they are out in traffic and closer to motor vehicle exhaust pipes.

An ongoing study will assess if the difference in soot inhalation results in health differences in the long run.
In the meantime cyclists could consider less congested routes, city planners should take a cyclists increased susceptibility to traffic pollution into consideration and if this isn’t enough then don’t join them (motorists) beat them!

A century ago bicycle companies were rushing into the “horseless carriage” market, now automobile companies are developing and even selling bicycles.

Pictured is the Ford E-Bike concept, an ultra-light bike with a carbon fiber and aluminum frame, an integrated electric motor assist front wheel, a 9.3 amp-hour lithium-ion battery, and an internal hub 11-speed
transmission.

The electric motor can generate speeds of up to 25 kph and offers pedaling assistance for up to 85 kilometres.

Will they ever market it? Not right away at least, but it shows how the company’s technology and design expertise could translate into the type of bike that doesn’t leave you inhaling exhaust fumes, but instead has motorists eating your dust.