Bicycle Route Preference and Pollution Inhalation Dose: Comparing Exposure and Distance Trade-Offs

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Journal of Transport & HealthPublication

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Cyclists -- Health and hygiene, Air -- Pollution -- Health aspects, Automobiles -- Motors -- Exhaust gas -- Health aspects


Do bicyclist preferences for low-traffic facilities lead to route choices that minimize air pollution inhalation doses? For both preferences and doses a routing trade-off can exist between exposure to motor vehicle traffic and trip duration. We use past studies of bicycle route preferences and pollution exposure levels to estimate exposure/distance trade-offs among roadway facility types. Exposure/distance trade-offs for preferences and doses are found to be similar when comparing off-street paths, bike boulevards, and low-to-moderate traffic streets with or without bike lanes; when choosing a route among these facilities we expect bicyclists to approximately minimize inhalation doses. Compared to dose-minimizing behavior, bicyclists tend to use high-traffic streets too often if there is a bike lane and not enough if there is not. The recommendation for practice is to provide low-traffic routes wherever possible in bicycle networks, not to limit bicycle facilities on high-traffic streets. Networks with extensive low-traffic bicycle facilities are robust to misalignments between preferences and doses because they reduce both the likelihood and severity of excess (non-minimum) doses.

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