A study has found that cyclists inhale twice as much soot as pedestrians as they move around the city. Research conducted at Barts and the London School of Medicine found 2.3 times the amount of black carbon in people who cycled rather than walked.
Admittedly, it's a small study, looking at just five participants from both categories, but the findings would seem to back up common sense assumptions. Cyclists are closer to vehicles (and their exhausts) and the exercise is likely to make them breathe more deeply than walking. If it holds up on wider examination it's bad news: the UN found that black carbon is responsible for shortening lives by an average of 8.6 months in the EU, and London is already acknowledged to have some of the worst air pollution in Europe.
The delayed expansion of the Low Emission Zone to include more vehicle types next year should help on the 'particulate matter' front, but London's cyclists are still having to deal with air quality that the Olympics deem to be bordering on unsuitable, as well as ridiculous cycle lanes and other irritations. How do you combat air pollution? Do face masks make any difference at all?