Hey NYC, Check out the Smog on Your Bike Ride #WearableWednesday


How healthy is it riding your bike to work? We’ve all been taught that it’s great exercise, but what about the smog? Well,it appears that Darby Jack of Columbia University is asking these questions and also embarking on a study according to Fast Company. He’s a professor of environmental health sciences and also a bike commuter. He knows first hand that bikers have different issues than pedestrians.

One of the major challenges studying air pollution exposure levels in cyclists is that as you ride your bike, you start breathing more rapidly than you would while walking or standing. So the amount of pollution a cyclist inhales is more than a pedestrian at the same spot.

So, the question becomes how to test all of this. Darby has put together an outfit, starting with a Hexoskin shirt. The shirt is able to record biometric data including breathing volume and breathing rate. He’s combined it with RTI’s MicroPEM sensor, which looks at how fast a pollutant enters the respiratory system, as well as AethLabs’ MicroAeth, which looks at black carbon concentration. These sensors have been developed in the last few years, so it’s quite exciting to see them used in a project like this, which will be looking directly at bikers in NYC. There’s hope that the data will be used for the greater good.


“This kind of data can help inform the design of healthy bike infrastructure, [like] where to put bike lanes,” says Jack. “It can also inform route choice among folks who exercise outdoors in cities—when and where to run or ride to minimize exposure.”

If you’d like to be part of this NYC experiment, check out Columbia’s Bike Study site. If you are just in love with the idea of experimenting with biometric data, check out our Polar Heart Rate Starter Pack. You can start by reading heart rate and then figure out how to add more sensors into your life. We can’t make you healthier, but we can certainly make you more aware of your current status LOL. Get your ride on.


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