The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, recently issued a ‘very high’ air pollution alert for the first time. This was pretty alarming and the press, as expected, have been taking every opportunity to deter us from leaving our houses, let alone doing so on two wheels. Our fear-mongering media, it seems, would have us believe that walking and cycling in the capital does us more harm than good. We’ve taken a look at the evidence to see whether this is the case.
The Science Bit.
The recent spike in air pollution is, as it turns out, a result of the bad weather. As the Mayor’s office put it, “low wind speeds are leading to poor dispersal of local pollutants meaning pollution has built throughout the course of several days.”
Reports that the health benefits gained from walking or cycling in London are outweighed by the damaging effects of air pollution are, in fact, not true. At this time there are 15 cities in the world where this is the terrifying reality, as detailed in a recent Guardian article. London is not one of them. In fact, you can cycle in the heart of London for 24 hours straight and the pollution would still not outweigh the benefits. That is unless you count being really really tired afterwards.
“You can cycle in the heart of London for 24 hours straight and the pollution would still not outweigh the benefits.”
So, hop on your bike and get back on the road. After all, the Tour de France is only a few months away! I’m assuming your New Year’s resolution has probably already fallen through, so do yourself and the city a favour and get the much-needed exercise, whilst contributing to a greener London.
Cycling needn’t merely be a means of getting to work either. This great article by Time Out lists some of the best bike rides around London. There are plenty of beautiful routes to tempt you out of the city for some slightly fresher air. And if you’re not sure if your fixie is the right fit for a longer ride, check out the road bikes available near you with peer-to-peer cycle hire.
If you’re without a bike altogether, check out our London bike hire options and select the steed that best suits your needs and location. Even better, don’t do it alone! Surprise a friend – rent a bike on their behalf – and get out there together. Bike rental is super simple and with our bike hire, you’re certain to find something suiting you whether it be a mountain bike, road bike or even a tandem bike if you’re feeling brave.