Safety on the Road for Cyclists

(This multi-part article examines the complex issue of safety in bicycling on city streets. This is the second in the series.)

When cycling advocates say they want to increase the number of people bicycling, they don’t usually mean recreational cyclists who only ride in the controlled environment of a park or a bicycle path but rather people who ride their bikes for really going places, that is, for transport. This usually means riding a bicycle on the road in traffic because even in the most advanced places for bicycling, such as Amsterdam or Copenhagen, you still have to ride on the roadway, which means having to ride in traffic among motorized vehicles.

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Pollution from Motor Vehicles Just as Bad as Smoking Tobacco

Breathing polluted air is just as devastating on the body as smoking

Two physicians, Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo and Dr. Custer Deocaris, speaking at the recent Clean Air Forum organized by the Partnership for Clean Air, said that outside air pollution, which in Metro Manila is caused for the most part by motor vehicles, presents the same dangers to personal health as smoking tobacco does. (These effects are graphically shown in the poster above.) They urged clean air advocates to learn from successful anti-smoking campaigns that have significantly lowered the incidence of smoking in the Southeast Asian Region, including the Philippines. They credited this success to the campaign’s focus on the devastating effects that tobacco use has on personal health, a fact the even the powerful lobby of tobacco multinational corporations, such as Philip Morris and British American Tobacco, cannot dispute. Air pollution from vehicle emissions, they believed, involve the same chemicals and toxins in tobacco smoke and are therefore similarly harmful, leading to debilitating pulmonary diseases such as emphysema (COPD), weakening the heart, and producing various cancers, particularly those that attack the lungs.

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Annual Clean Air Forum 2014

FFB President Karen presenting at the Clean Air Forum

FFB President Karen presenting at the Clean Air Forum

The sixth annual clean air forum of the Partnership for Clean Air, Inc., a network of clean air advocates, of which the Firefly Brigade is a member, showed that pollution is becoming a big health issue, despite an apparent average downward trend in total suspended particles. This is probably the only highlight of the forum worth talking about. The rest was the usual babble of talking heads with little to say about what to do about pollution, which in Metro Manila is overwhelming due to motor vehicles (85 percent). The forum was held 26-27 June at the DENR Social Hall.

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