June 7, 2009
Photo By Jack Robert-Tissot of Collective Photographic http://collectivephotographic.com.au/
CITY CHOKED (Mercury Letters 6/6/09)
Fumes from cars and trucks, particularly diesel, are the most toxic cancer causing fumes on the planet. If breathed while exercising (such as cycling), the effects are increased tenfold. Why would any sensible person ride a bike through Hobart City.
Peter R. Aris, West Moonah
I AM A SENSIBLE CYCLIST
Peter R. Aris asks the question ‘why would any sensible person ride a bike through Hobart City?’ (Letters, 6/6/09). Considering the significant health, environmental and financial benefits I gain from bringing my bike into Hobart, I consider myself very ‘sensible’.
The question I ask is ‘why would any sensible person drive a car through Hobart city’? A study from 2006 reported an independent and increased risk of myocardial infarction in those who reported prolonged car transit time.
Furthermore, according to the World Health Organisation, the increased physical activity I get from commuting into Hobart by bike reduces my risk of developing Heart Disease, Stroke, Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Colon Cancer and Depression, while improving my musculoskeletal and psychological health!
When considering risk of injury, Australian Research has found that netball, basketball, rugby union, equestrian pursuits and AFL all have significantly higher risk of hospitalisation per 100,000 participants than cycling.
There is also increasing evidence that higher levels of motor vehicle use increase the risk of road trauma. Considering road Trauma costs Australia over $17 Billion a year, I feel good in the knowledge that by riding safely and cautiously there is no risk of me killing or injuring anyone.
I ride a bike through Hobart city because I am sensible!
BREATHE EASIER ON A BIKE
A study from the Health Promotion Journal of Australia in 2004 counters Peter R. Aris (Letters, 6/6/09) and his view that people riding a bike in the city are exposed to air pollution ten-fold.
The cross-sectional analytical study compared exposure to benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene and nitrogen dioxide by the travel modes of car, train, bus, bicycle and walking. Car commuters received the highest average exposure to all the previously mentioned substances.
Peter R. Aris is concerned about the cancer causing toxins affecting cyclists. Benzene is the most important carcinogen (cancer causing) and inside a car one is exposed to the highest level compared to cycling, walking or catching public transport.
Cyclists deliberately keep off busy roads when they can which reduces their exposure to pollutants, but even when they use busy roads and highly congested urban areas for the same amount of time as motorists, taking into account increased respiration due to activity, studies in Europe have revealed that their exposure to pollutants is 2-3 times lower than car drivers, contrary to Peter R. Aris’s claims.
The study concludes that people travelling to work in peak-hour periods should use alternatives to cars to reduce their exposure to air pollutants, and also to reduce the exposure of other commuters by reducing their contribution to car emissions.
By Liam Correy
Chertok M, Voukelatos A, Sheppeard V, Rissel C. exposure for five commuting modes in Sydney – car, train, bus, bicycle and walkinghttp://www.healthpromotion.org.au/journal/previous/2004_1/article8.php, accessed 24/04/07Comparison of air pollution, Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 2004, 15(1): p.63-67,
DEATH BY FUMES
I would rather die from noxious fumes cycling- (letters 6th June) with a fit and healthy body- than risk heart disease, obesity, depression, diabetes and bowel cancer from using sedentary transport options such as driving.
CYCLING MAKES SENSE
I can assure you Mr Aris, that I am actually very sensible for exercising in town by riding my bicycle (Letters 6th June). Unlike being in a closed vehicle, fumes do not linger in my proximity. I also have more time in my life as I do not need to go to gyms or boot camps to get my daily exercise and I feel good about being one less person contributing to air and noise pollution and traffic congestion.
By Katie Kingshott
Peter Aris (City Choked Saturday 6th June) maintains that traffic fumes are so dangerous that people should not cycle in Hobart. Not only does this seem an illogical approach as it is surely more constructive to tackle the cause of the pollution in the first place (such as riding a bike instead of driving) but also the danger is overstated. Hobart simply does not have the vehicle pollution problems that may be more evident in large congested cities such as Sydney or Melbourne and even in these cities the benefits to the individual of being physically active by using a bike for day to day journeys far outweigh the risks from any source, not just the pollution. I appreciate the concern expressed by Mr Aris towards cyclists but it may be worth considering that the concentration of exhaust emissions can be far higher inside a car than outside and as cycling is often faster in an urban area than driving, bike riders are exposed for a shorter period of time.