cycling and air quality

Ash from Eagle Creek Fire adds to poor air quality in Portland: Is it OK to ride?

Avatar by on September 5th, 2017 at 8:03 am

cycling bad air.jpg

A woman wears a mask while cycling on North Vancouver Avenue this morning.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

“Rode today with a mask, but some eye protection is needed. My eyes started to itch after a while.”
— Alex Fallenstedt via Twitter

Larch Mountain, Crown Point, Cascade Locks — to people who love to ride bicycles, these places are more than cherished icons of Oregon’s beauty. They are ride destinations and inspirations.

The Eagle Creek Fire that’s still burning out of control in the Columbia River Gorge is having an emotional impact on many of us. People who live and work in the Gorge are struggling right now. And for those of us with emotional bonds to those places forged by hours in the saddle we can only watch in horror as the damage spreads. Even if we could put it out of our minds, the ash falling in Portland makes it impossible to ignore.

That ash has mixed with bad air quality (at hazardous levels last I checked) has many of you wondering if it’s safe to bike in the city. The answer is yes, but…
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Precision Castparts will hold community meeting on air quality tonight

Avatar by on May 25th, 2016 at 12:27 pm

Precision's factory in southeast Portland. (Photo: South Portland Air Quality)

Precision’s factory in southeast Portland.
(Photo: South Portland Air Quality)

A major industrial metal parts manufacturer with a factory just a few hundred feet away from the Springwater Corridor biking path is holding a meeting tonight (5/25) to talk about air quality.

Precision Castparts Corporation will host a community meeting from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at the Monarch Hotel in Clackamas (12566 SE 93rd Avenue, it’s unclear why they’re having it four miles from the community that’s impacted).

Pollution concerns have dominated headlines in Portland for months now. It started when a researcher discovered unhealthy levels of toxic pollutants coming from a glass factory in southeast Portland. The issue became a major topic in the Portland mayoral campaign, has led to a class-action lawsuit and has galvanized local activists. Dozens of people rallied and testified at the state capitol yesterday to put the issue in front of lawmakers. Also yesterday the Oregon Environmental Council published a new report about dirty air from diesel truck engines which they say causes up to 460 premature deaths each year.
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Got polluted air? A good biking network helps, PSU study says

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on February 8th, 2016 at 4:04 pm

In traffic on Grand Avenue-1.jpg

It turns out when people have route options, they choose healthier ones.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Last week’s news that a glass factory on SE 21st Street seems to have been emitting “alarming” levels of arsenic and cadmium has many Portlanders who bike through the area worried.
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County urges bikers to use TriMet as wildfire smoke fills Portland streets (updated)

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on August 22nd, 2015 at 7:22 pm

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Want to breathe as little pollution as possible? Pedal at exactly 11 mph

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on July 23rd, 2014 at 9:40 am


A woman being exposed to more pollutants than she’d like.
(Photos J.Maus/BikePortland)

With a homebuilt $300 pollution monitor strapped to his bicycle and seven years of Portland State University education in his brain, Alex Bigazzi has been leading a deep exploration into your lungs.

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Biking and breathing on major streets

Avatar by on September 20th, 2013 at 12:50 pm


Newsflash: Cars are highly toxic
and bike riders suck it all in.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Tribune published an article yesterday with a scary headline: “Car exhaust proves unseen road hazard.” The story chronicled the efforts of transportation researcher Alex Bigazzi, who rides around Portland with special equipment attached to his bike in order to measure air quality.

Bigazzi is a doctoral student at Portland State University who’s no stranger to this topic. In 2010, we wrote about research he worked on that pointed to the air quality and health benefits of streets that have cycle paths separated from auto traffic. Bigazzi’s latest work, as highlighted in the Tribune, are sure to raise some eyebrows. Here’s one of the opening paragraphs:

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Study shows cycling in heavy traffic may pose heart risk

Avatar by on July 6th, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Riding on Broadway downtown-1

Riding on SW Broadway
in downtown Portland.
(Photo © J. Maus)

[Via Environmental Health News]

In what researchers call the first study ever to examine the relationship between traffic-related air pollution exposures and cardiac health among people who ride bikes, a study published last month found that cycling near heavy traffic “may have a significant impact” on heart health.

The research, Traffic-Related Air Pollution and Acute Changes in Heart Rate Variability and Respiratory Function in Urban Cyclists, was done in Ottawa by Canadian researchers and published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. [Read more…]

Hazmat situation on Springwater raises air quality concerns (again)

Avatar by on May 12th, 2011 at 9:47 am

For the second time since November of last year, people who bike on the Springwater Corridor (in blue) have raised concerns about emissions from nearby factories.

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Study: Separated bikeways mean better air quality for bikers, walkers

Avatar by on October 28th, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Cycletrack on SW Broadway-4

Breathe easy in the cycle track.
(Photo © J. Maus)

An ongoing research project by the Department of Environmental Science at Portland State University is taking a closer look at how separated bicycle infrastructure (like cycle tracks) impacts the air quality and health of road users.
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