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BBC pollution article has cyclists fuming (sorry)

Respiratory Physiotherapist says there's not enough health information for urban riders...

There are a number of issues that invariably push cyclists’ buttons: helmet-usage, incompetent lorry drivers, Rapha and Lance Armstrong to name but four, and judging by the reaction to this article, pollution can be added to that list.

Cyclists have betrayed their anger, frustration, confusion and even shown a bit of support, for an article by Amanda Dryer Respiratory Physiotherapist at Manchester Royal Infirmary which is posted on the BBC website.

The item deals with the issue of how much health information is made available to regular cyclists – urban commuting ones in particular – who are, inevitably breathing in pollution in the form of particulate matter from the traffic around them.

Ms Dryer is quick to acknowledge that cycling is a healthy activity which should not be discouraged over concerns about air quality but then immediately states: “It is critical, however, that we raise public awareness about the effects that air pollution has on the respiratory system - both in the short and long term.”

And it is hard to disagree with that statement other than perhaps, the notion that this information is “critical.” Many might say that such awareness “important” or “useful” but “critical”? Surely that suggests lives are in danger.

Judging by the comments below what appears to be an otherwise well researched and erudite article, many people appear irritated by the notion that an item on such a “critical” issue contains nothing in the way of hard facts and figures from scientific studies on the issue.

Commenters suggest that the article amounts to the kind of scaremongering that could potentially frighten people off their bikes and back into their cars, thereby exacerbating the pollution problem.

It’s a vexed issue that has clearly touched a nerve within the cycling community not least it seems because we don’t like being told that in doing what we feel is the right thing, we may actually be harming ourselves. Or is that how you see it?

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