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Bicyclists’ Uptake of Traffic-Related Air Pollution: Effects of the Urban Transportation System
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Bicyclists’ Uptake of Traffic-Related Air Pollution: Effects of the Urban Transportation System
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    Final Report
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    While bicyclists and other active travelers obtain health benefits from increased physical activity, they also risk uptake of traffic-related air pollution. But pollution uptake by urban bicyclists is not well understood due to a lack of direct measurements and insufficient analysis of the determinants of exposure and ventilation (breathing). This knowledge gap impedes pollution-conscious transportation planning, design, and health impact assessment. The research presented in this dissertation generates new connections between transportation system characteristics and pollution uptake by bicyclists. The primary research questions are: 1) how do urban bicyclists’ intake and uptake of air pollution vary with roadway and travel characteristics and 2) to what extent can transportation-related strategies reduce uptake. Breath biomarkers are used to measure absorbed doses of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This research is the first application of breath biomarkers to travelers and the first uptake measurements of any pollutant to include roadway-level covariates. Novel methods to collect and integrate bicycle, rider, traffic, and environmental data are also introduced. Bicyclist exposure concentrations, exhaled breath concentrations, respiratory physiology, and travel characteristics were collected on a wide range of facilities in Portland, Oregon. High-resolution trajectory and pollution data were then integrated with roadway and traffic data. Models of exposure, ventilation, and uptake of VOCs were estimated from the on-road data. Important new quantifications in the models include the effects of average daily traffic (ADT) on multi-pollutant exposure, the lagged effect of on-road workload on ventilation, and the effects of exposure and ventilation on absorbed VOCs. Estimated models are applied to situations of interest to travelers and transportation professionals. Sample applications include the inhalation dose effects of road grade, cruising speed choice, stops, and detouring to parallel low-traffic facilities. In addition, dose-minimizing routing behavior is compared with revealed routing preferences in the literature. Finally, findings from this research and the literature are distilled so that they can be incorporated into bicycle network design guidelines.

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