Breathing clean air should be a basic human right. However, people who live in highly industrialized cities know that breathing clean air is no longer possible, unless you go to the remotest of rural areas or live up in the mountains.
In an article titled Is Metro Manila Air Improving? by Isabella Montano, it is said that a recent study by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) states that the air quality of Metro Manila has improved slightly, having gone from 166 micrograms in 2010 down to 120 micrograms per cubic meter in 2015 – still 30 micrograms over what is considered a safe level.
To help improve the quality of the air people breathe, designer and engineer Daan Roosegaarde started the ‘Smog Free Project,’ an initiative to find solutions to reducing air pollution in highly urbanized cities.
To help achieve this, he came up with the ‘Smog Free Bike.’ The bike has one main objective – to reduce the pollution in the air, and this is achieved in two ways: 1) by encouraging people to ride their bikes instead of driving their cars, and 2) by purifying the air as the rider pedals.
The bike is equipped with a passive air filter which can be found attached to the handlebars of the bike. The filter is activated as the rider pedals the bike, and because it is passive, it does not require any other power source.
As the rider rides his or her bike, he or she also helps purify the air that goes through the bike’s filter. So it’s not only good for your health, but also great for the environment.
This is not the first project of Roosegarde’s to help rid the world of pollution. On September 4, 2015, the Smog Free Tower was unveiled at Vierhavensstraat 52, after a highly successful Kickstarter campaign. The total amount raised was €113,153.
In September 2016, merely a year later, Roosegarde brought the tower to Beijing. In an interview with dezeen.com, he said, “The idea originated in Beijing but, to convince China’s central government, we used Rotterdam as a pilot, to test, to learn, to make a mistake, to upgrade.”
The air pollution in the Chinese capital of Beijing has reached alarming levels. According to an article by Steven Schwankert titled “Beijing Still Has a Massive Pollution Problem for Tourists and Locals Alike,” in December 2016, schools in Beijing had to close down because of severe pollution. It was the city’s first pollution red alert for that year.
The pollution has affected Beijing’s tourism industry, as tourists cut their trips short or cancel their trips altogether, in fear of being exposed to too much air pollution.
In Rotterdam, where the first Smog Free Tower was built, the air pollution has also reached an alarming level. According to an article titled “Amsterdam Air Pollution Equal to Smoking 6 Cigarettes Per Day: Environmental Group” by Janene Pieters, breathing the air in Rotterdam is equivalent to “passively smoking almost 7 cigarettes a day.”
In Metro Manila, the 8 million (and still growing number of) vehicles navigating the streets, contribute up to 80% of the total cause of air pollution. The lack of reliable and efficient transport system has made the people so dependent on their cars. There are just too many vehicles on the roads. And with the emergence of Uber and Grab, there are even more vehicles polluting Metro Manila’s air.
One can only hope that Roosegaarde continues this very admirable and very timely project of gifting the citizens of the world with clean air with his Smog Free Towers and Smog Free Bikes. Surely, we all could use a breath of fresh air.
By: Katy Concepcion-Wiggins