- Bicycle Culture by Design: Air Pollution is Not on Political Agenda in Denmark

"Good advice for avoiding air pollution from Danish Broadcasting."

The news in Copenhagen this morning is all about air pollution. A new study once again exposes political ineptitude and lack of willingness to reduce motorised traffic in order to improve quality of life, public health and air quality. The study is in Danish, but there is an English abstract on page 12. Opens as pdf.

Basically, the report from DCE - Nationalt Center for Environment & Energy at Aarhus University - states these facts: 67 premature deaths a year in Copenhagen and Frederiksberg from pollution originating in the two municipalities. 540 premature deaths a year in Copenhagen and Frederiksberg from pollution originating in and outside the two municipalities. 1500 premature deaths a year in the Capital Region from pollution originating in and outside Denmark.

The graphic, above, also exposes the persistant Ignoring the Bull that is even rampant in Denmark. One bicycle (no cyclist), one jogger and a bunch of cars.

Danish Broadcasting, Astma & Allergy Denmark and Danish Lung Association were kind enough to provide the graphic and ten ways to protect yourself against air pollution. 1. If you live next to a busy street, avoid airing out your home towards the street during rush hour. Air out towards the backyard instead.

Translation: Your policitians will determine whether or not you can open your windows. They are helpless at reducing traffic, despite a whole catalogue of ideas as to how to do so. If you open your windows toward the street, it's like driving without a seatbelt. It's your own damn fault if something happens. Not your politicians.

2. When you're looking for a new home, avoid buying one near a busy street. According to Denmark's Lung Assoc. there is noticeably less air pollution at least 50 m. away from a busy street.

Translation: Your politicians just made shopping for a new home easier for you. With this advice, you can cross thousands and thousands of apartments and houses in this densely-populated city off your list. Nevermind if they are close to shops, parks, schools - or basically everywhere you want to go. The cars aren't going anywhere, you moron. Choose to live there and it's your own damn fault. Not your politicians.

3. If you want to avoid as much air pollution as possible, move to the countryside.

Translation: To hell with the city. We can't change it. We can't modernise. Move to the country and drive your car into the city and let the poor morons who choose to live along your motor vehicle corridors suffer the consequenceso of your mode of transport. Turn up the radio and enjoy the drive!

4. Take your bicycle instead of the car. (Except if you moved to the countryside). In a car you are closer to the exhaust of other cars and it enters your car through the ventilation system.

Ooh. Finally some rationality. Ish.

5. Avoid busy streets in rush hour and try to find an alternative "green" route. Cyclists in Copenhagen can use many green routes.

Translation: Cars ain't going nowhere, dipshit. Everyone else please adjust your routes, taking more time to commute, because our hands our tied. Yes, it's a pain in the ass, but we don't really care.

6. If you drive a car anyway, turn off the ventilation system and roll up your windows when you're in heavy traffic or in tunnels.

Translation: We realise that so few people will actually do this, but we thought we'd chuck it in there for fun.

7. Avoid running or other demanding physical activities outside in places where there is intense air pollution - near busy streets in rush hour, for example. If you live in Copenhagen, you can find green running routes.

Translation: Stay indoors. Join a fitness club. Stay the hell off the streets. All those joggers are a pain in the ass for motorists anyway. Fewer squishy objects to worry about whilst driving.

8. If you live in an area with many wood burning stove, please note that the pollution from them is highest in the evening. If you are bothered by the smoke from your neighbour's stove, try having a chat with them to see if you can reach a consensus about solving the problem. If it isn't possible, contact your municipality who will deal with complaints about smoke.

Translation: Just go straight to the second option, because your neighbour won't give a shit about your concerns. Althought at the end of the day you're not going to get much joy from the complicated municipal process.

9. Check the daily air quality report on the radio, text TV or the internet and plan your day according to that.

Translation: You are a slave to your politicians' incompetence. It is YOUR responsibility to keep track of air pollution and YOUR responsibility to radically alter your routes and routines in daily life. Your politicians can't help you out. You're on your own.

10. If you're travelling, you can check if there is high air pollution at your destination. If you're visiting an EU country, you can check air pollution at know

Translation: Given the fact that cities all over Europe have had environmental zones for years, as well as congestion charges, 30 km/h zones, etc, you'll discover that much of the rest of the EU is far better off than you. Lots of great destinations to visit for healthy holidays.

I'll be borrowing a  particle measurement device from an environmental NGO - Miljøpunkt Indre By/Christianshavn in a couple of weeks in order to measure the levels of pollution inside my home - next to an intersection with over 26,000 cars a day. It'll be interesting to see what results we get.

This certainly isn't the first time we've written about air pollution.
2007: Traffic Kills Ten Times More People Than Traffic Accidents
2008: Cyclists Can Breathe Easy
2008: Intelligent Traffic Control Proposal in Copenhagen
2009: Pollution Gives us Stupid Kids
2011: Parasites and Living Lungs
2011: Massive Fall in Air Pollution During World Championships
2011: Noisy Danish Speed Demons
2012: Choke 

2012: The State of Copenhagen Congestion Part 1

Welcome to the New Copenhagen.

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