Magazine article Geographical

RECYCLED AIR: Beijing Looks Set to Welcome to Its Streets an Innovative Method of Combating Air Pollution

Magazine article Geographical

RECYCLED AIR: Beijing Looks Set to Welcome to Its Streets an Innovative Method of Combating Air Pollution

Article excerpt

There may well be 'nine million bicycles in Beijing', but cycling in the home of the Forbidden City is hardly the healthiest of activities. Years of intense smog means Beijing has become a focal point for the global effort to tackle air pollution; the latest official air quality target set by the mayor of Beijing--60 micrograms of PM2.5 particles per cubic metre--is over twice the accepted World Health Organization level of 20 to 25 micrograms.

'I became inspired by Beijing's smog,' says Daan Roosegaarde, founder of Rotterdam-based Studio Roosegaarde. 'I've lived there. It's so intense that you literally cannot see the other side of the street.'

Starting with Beijing, Roosegaarde hopes to make sweeping changes to the state of urban air around the world, by utilising an innovative method of cleaning the air using the bicycles themselves. 'Beijing was a cycling city just 15 years ago,' he points out. 'That completely disappeared because of the [rise in] status of the car. I asked how could I make a design which gives value to the bicycle again?'

Partnering with ofo, China's largest bike-sharing company (with around 20 million registered users riding over one million bicycles through 34 Chinese cities), he and his studio have developed a design for an air filter which attaches to the front handlebars, sucks in polluted air as it moves, cleans it, and releases the unpolluted air for the cyclist to breathe, while also (incrementally) cleaning the city's air for everyone else. …

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