A Greenpeace UK study reported that 75% of the nitrogen oxides, 29% of the carbon dioxide, and 97% of the carbon monoxide to which inhabitants of London are exposed come from car exhaust fumes. The same source report suggests the actual cost of air pollution in Bangkok is between USD 1.3 bn. and USD 3.1 bn., and in Manila is USD 1.8 bn.
The side effects of the exhausts from oil based industries and the millions of internal combustion engines driving all around the world include brain damage to children, acid rain damage to buildings, adverse health effects and a general lower quality of life for people exposed to airborne pollutants. Nor are pollutants the only danger to face non-car road users, and one of the major aims of the WNBR is to make people more aware of the perils of riding a bicycle on todays roads.
In the UK alone, between 100 and 200 cyclists have been killed on the roads in accidents every year since 1995, although according to official figures the numbers are decreasing, even while the numbers of cyclists using the roads are increasing.
Even if the numbers dying and injured are dropping, it is clear the cost of pollution escalates as more and more drivers take to the roads, since many families now have two, and sometimes more, cars for their household. Heather Brooke, in the UK, notes that while apparently overall “deaths on the roads declined by 18% … evidence from the UK Department of Health on the number of people admitted to hospital after road accidents did not show a decline.” Perhaps the authorities need to double-check their numbers.
Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.