Breathing Beijing air is akin to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Beijing artist Matt Hope's answer to the city's horrific air quality is a bike with a steampunk-style air filtration system on the back rack, cobbled together from an IKEA trash can and as he puts it, "bits of junk." The clean air filtration system is rider-powered, with filtered air steadily pumped through tubes attached to the frame and funneled up to the cyclist via a repurposed fighter pilot's mask.Hope calls his creation the Breathing Bike. But other would-be Beijing commuters might not want to try this bike hack at home, because Hope himself cautions that it could electrocute you if there's a rainstorm. This project is more a statement about air pollution than a practical solution for the average person...
Most people in Beijing cope by buying inexpensive 3M dust masks, or even full on gas masks, and putting air filters in every room. Smart entrepreneurial types are selling cans of fresh air - you pop the top and breathe deeply.
Beijing has a trio of problems creating the gross air - coal combustion, factory smokestacks and growing car traffic (according to Business Week, an estimated 20 million new cars on Beijing streets...this year!)
On February 4th, Beijing enjoyed clear skies for the first time in many days, but a lift of the stifling coat of pollution won't last. Greenpeace says a radical drop in the use of coal is the only solution.
See also: The FLIZ Pedal-Less Bike Concept