Environmental Defense Fund

Harmonize Healthy and Green Commuting in Megacities

Air quality

Deploy a hyperlocal air monitoring network that provides street-level air quality information to empower green commuters to protect themselves from exposure to air pollution.

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Project Summary

Globally nine out of ten people are victims to air pollution and transportation is identified as a major source. Cyclists present an opportunity as they also suffer higher air pollution risks. The project explores ways to ensure their commuting sustainable to their health and the environment.We establish a dense hyperlocal air quality monitoring network to capture the variation on commuting routes. By installing low-cost particulate matter sensors on share-bikes in megacities, the network can inform commuters on routes with clean air and suggest appropriate protection measures. It also engages city authorities to control pollution along targeted routes.We start in Beijing, home to nearly 2 million shared-bikes, and gradually expand to other megacities. Our goal is to make street-level air pollution data available to 60% of daily walking and cycling commuters in Chinese megacities by 2025 and further reduce air pollution to green urban commuting in China.

Problem Statement

Residents in nearly 70% of China’s cities breathe unhealthy air that doesn’t meet China’s national ambient air quality. Transportation is a major source of urban pollution, especially for megacities. In Beijing, for instance, nearly 50% of the PM2.5 is attributable to transportation. Bicycle is a solution to green transportation that reduces transportation burden. However, cyclists are susceptible to air pollution risk if the air quality along their cycling routes is unhealthy. Therefore, It is critical to mitigating air pollution risk of the cyclists to encourage more residents to choose a green commuting way. Globally nine out of ten people are victims to air pollution. China’s success in solving urban air pollution could be scaled up to address the global problem.

Solution Overview

If air quality information along the roads with high spatiotemporal resolution can be accessible to the pedestrians and cyclists, it will guide them to reduce air pollution exposure and further encourage more people to select green commuting options.Our solution is to provide high spatiotemporal pollution data to the public by deploying fixed and bicycle-based sensors to draw hyperlocal air quality mapping. China’s 400 million shared-bike users, as well as millions of shared bikes, will provide mobile monitoring solution. As part of the solution, a mobile application (App) will be developed to help the public to plan healthy commuting routes. The App can also help the users to estimate their environmental footprints compared to car use to encourage them to join green commuting.We will build shared-bike users’ ownership of the air pollution data and encourage more people to use a shared bike to map pollution. The App gives users an option to record their input to the pollution map and reward them for expanding monitoring to their interest routes.Hyperlocal monitoring data will be shared with governments to direct them to control pollution on roads. With the hyperlocal mapping, environmental authorities can identify and handle hot spots that impact pedestrians and cyclists’ health more precisely and encourage more people to choose green commuting. Scale up in other megacities as well as in other countries.

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