Thats the question, do you need to wear a mask while cycling. The world will probably slightly change due to the world wide effects of covid 19, remember there still is no cure. What if covid never happened. do you need to where a mask while cycling. I know I get it, part of the joy of cycling is the freedom and independence it brings. The connection to the outdoors, the countryside and the beauty of your surroundings as you glide through the wind on your pride and joy. However there is also the need to protect you and your health.
I am going to answer the question of do you need to wear a mask while cycling with, it depends. Yes it depends on your environment where you are going to be cycling, each scenario brings it own risk. Off roading probably presents the least risk to our lungs and internal defence system, that is unless you suffer from hay fever so that only applies usually in the summer months. The countryside presents the next easiest low risk from pollution, you just have to be careful of the boy racers whizzing around the corners not giving you enough room as they pass you at 60mph +.
Mask For Urban Cycling
Again it depends on how urban the environment actually is the, the bigger the settlement (urban area) the greater the risks grows.
Masks For Cycling Off Road
This is purely a personal choice because the air quality should be pretty good to start with. The only time I would wear a mask would be when the tracks are dry and dusty. Its not a problem if you are cycling alone but if you are with a group of people and at the back you will literally eating dust.
Mask For Cycling On Country Roads
Again this is pretty low risk even with some traffic on the road. The trees and the rest of the living foliage with actually help to absorb fumes and toxins from the atmosphere. The only downside to cycling in the countryside is if you are travelling to a tourist destination. Once there they can become quite busy and a build up of traffic causing queues, congestion and standing cars produce a lot of fumes . So to be safe take a cycling mask with you as you never know what situations may Arise
Mask For Cycling In Towns And Cities
Most of us presume that the worst thing for is the toxins from the cars exhaust The diesel four main pollutant emissions from diesel engines (carbon monoxide-CO, hydrocarbons-HC, particulate matter-PM and nitrogen oxides-NOx) (source)
Petrol engines, Carbon dioxide (CO2) – CO2 is a greenhouse gas, thought to be a major contributing factor to climate change. Although technically non-toxic, excessive volumes contribute towards ocean acidification. Carbon monoxide (CO) very toxic and is caused by unburnt fuel which is becoming less common due to efficient engines. Hydrocarbons (HC) are also produced by unburnt fuel. Nitrogen oxides (NOx), Sulfur dioxide (SO2) and Benzene (C6H6) which is a carcinogenic substance which is harmful to us mere mortals if enough is inhaled. We can see these as a visible threat because of the smoke coming out of the exhaust so ynataurly we see it as a danger to our health.
The Unseen Pollutants
The things that we cannot see we naturally presume that there is no risk to our health and well-being. Microplastics are a real threat to our health and we cant even see them, but what are microplastics and where do they come from. Microplastics are plastic pieces that measure less than five millimetres.
The tyres on all our vehicles are responsible for a lot of microplastics in the air, yes even your bike produces it as well but not at the rate of mechanical vehicles. Tyre abrasion is responsible for creating up to 68,000 tonnes of microplastic pollution each year, between 7,000 and 19,000 of which end up in UK waterways. So the question do you need to wear a mask while cycling ? remember the microplastics when you are cycling through traffic. Would you believe that the paint used for road markings even produces microplastics. As the sun and weather erode the paint over time it releases micro-plastics. Also external paint is a contributor. Inclement weather and natural flaking means that the paint used on buildings and road markings can contribute between 1,400 and 3,700 tonnes of microplastic pollution to our waterways every year.
More Reason To Wear A Mask When Cycling
Everyone is hoping that when all cars are electric it will help to keep the air quality better. However thats not going to happen as we have already mentioned about the vehicles tyres cause pollution. The other unseen pollutant is brake dust and clutch dust. These tiny particles measure less than 2.5 thousandths of a millimetre across, less than one thirtieth the width of a human hair. They can reach deep into the heart, lungs and bloodstream causing asthma, heart disease, lung cancer and strokes.
Do you still need ask the question do you need to wear a mask while cycling ?Well if your cycling in a town or city II would highly recommend that you do wear a mask for cycling. The other reason to wear a mask is also to stop you transmitting any airborne disease. With physical activity the heart rate goes up and pumps the blood faster, you breath heaver in order to get the oxygen in quicker. As you expel air the 2m social distancing isn’t much good, it would be more like 3m to keep people safe around you.
What to look out for when buying a bike mask?
When purchasing a bike mask make sure that it carries a N95 or N99 certification. These ratings show the percentage of air particulate matter that can get through the mask. So its 95% or 99% the N99 includes tiny PM2.5 particles which are the most dangerous as they can remain in the lungs for a while.
How do I get the right size bike mask?
It’s important to pick up an anti-pollution mask that fits correctly; it’ll allow unfiltered air to pass through the sides if it’s gaping off your face. Bike masks that are too tight will restrict breathing and feel uncomfortable during cycling. Luckily, most manufacturers offer a sizing guide to help you get the right fit.
Types Of Masks For Cycling
You need to consider what type of mask you are getting for cycling now you realise the dangers out there. The practicality of the mask, the cost of the mask and for some how cool you will look when wearing one.
Respro® Ultralight Mask Black
The Respro Ultralight Mask delivers on everything we’d expect from a high quality bike mask. It uses N99-rated filtering technology and replaceable Hepa Sport 2.5 PM filters to block out pollutants, allergens and even bad smells.
This mask has been raved about on other cycling publications but after reading the reviews on Amazon I am not so sure now. The biggest complaint is that it does not fit well, the strap at the back isn’t high enough and it slides down once you perform any physical activity. Also complaints about excessive condensation, they are currently out of stock at amazon. Priced at around £40 so not cheap.
1 Pack Anti-pollution Cycling Face Cover with 6 Pack Activated Carbon Filters Dust Proof Washable Sports Outdoor Mouth Face Guard
Some good reviews on Amazon about the mask, 50% of the reviews were 5 star reviews so thats pretty good.. The most common complaint on ALL masks is the quality of the items. Is this down to quality control because at the moment companies cannot make the quick enough. Lots and lots of the masks are just out of stock. When travel opens up again and you decide to travel with your bike make sure you get our bike box for your flight. Some ideas for your next biking trip, Biking in The Balkans and Euro Cycling Destinations.