In Marseille, France the news regularly reminds us of the consequences of air pollution, particularly the repercussions of the now, sadly famous, PM2.5 particles (particles in the air that are less than 2.5 micrometers in size, the smallest of which can penetrate our lungs). According to a recent study done by the Marseille Provence Métropole, the main contributor of PM2.5 particles is road transportation, which tends to release the most dangerous particles associated with air pollution; those which can cause an early death.
Are cyclists alone fated to breathe less polluted air than that which automobilists breathe in daily? A recent survey on the health benefits of cycling concluded that, in a hypothetical scenario where cycling increases by fifty percent among commuters in Marseille (bringing the number of cyclists up to 3.6%), the relative maximum risk of death due to exposure to air pollution in urban areas would be only 0.4%. This study also shows a 28% decrease in risk thanks to the physical activity associated with cycling. To recap. cycling is associated with many proven health benefits. It is now up to Marseille’s elected officials to find ways in which to make riding bicycles more attractive to the city’s citizens.
While waiting for the urban planning division of the city’s government to descend from their company cars (complete with chauffeurs) to come to terms with the reality of the pitfalls of active travel in Marseille, activists and their green transportation projects are beginning to act. For example, Proxipouss Air,” a Marseillaise initiative, provides transportation via rickshaws - complete with equipment that measures air quality and gives precise readings along its route. These types of technologies are leading the way in air quality solutions for Marseille.
In what ways does your city encourage green transportation and combat air pollution? Do these methods tend to be government initiatives or are they more often led by local activists? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.
Original article, originally published in French here.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.