Whether you hit the trails or the roads, bike riding in Pittsburgh is a fabulous way to see the sights, commute and get a little exercise–not to mention, it’s a zero-emissions form of transportation.
When you ride, you likely strap on a helmet, pump up your tires, make sure your lights are on, and investigate safe routes to your destination. But one safety precaution you might not be taking is finding out about the air quality on your ride.
Cyclists and other outdoor athletes are particularly susceptible to the health impacts of air pollution. If you’ve ever been stuck behind a dump truck or bus, you know the feeling. And what about the higher-than-average levels of air pollution we breathe as a matter of course almost daily in the Pittsburgh region?
For the past few years, Group Against Smog and Pollution has been working to help cyclists and other outdoor athletes in Pittsburgh make the safest decisions possible by creating an interactive GIS map of air quality along popular bike routes. The crowdsourced data were collected from bike-mounted particulate monitors. You can check out the resulting map here: http://gasp-pgh.org/
The map project will get a big boost on April 4, when GASP’s Athletes United for Healthy Air campaign will host the first-ever Ride Against Smog and Pollution! This 12-hour bicycle ride (done in one-hour shifts) will take place along the Eliza Furnace Trail and the South Side segment of the Three Rivers Heritage trail from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. All participants will monitor the air quality along these two trails as they ride.
The findings of the trail blitz will allow GASP to gather a concentrated swath of data and make educated recommendations to athletes seeking to avoid air pollution. It also could help policy makers and developers take action to reduce air pollution for future trail plans.
After the 12-hour event, cyclists are welcome to join GASP at the Over the Bar Bicycle Cafe in the South Side for post-ride festivities. All volunteers also will receive a goodie bag, food and drink. If you are interested in volunteering for a shift, contact Sam Thomas at email@example.com.