When is it Safe to Ride in Bushfire Smoke?

Parts of Australia have been a blazing inferno for three months now. While Brisbane has been fortunate, there have been sporadic bushfires in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales that have impacted our river city.

It’s obvious that riding through thick plumes of smoke won’t be good for you, but it’s harder to know when it is and isn’t safe to ride when you can barely notice the smoke layer.

And that’s exactly what we hope to shed some light on for you in this blog!

Bushfire smoke is no joke

Both Canberra and Melbourne were measured to have the worst air quality in the world at some point in the last month. Sydney only got down to the 9th worst in the world, but that was their worst ever measurement. What does it all mean?

The problem is that smoke is mainly made up of three things: small particles, gases, and water vapour. The ingredient that poses the biggest immediate danger is the particles. This particulate matter (PM) can be extremely small.

Particulate matter is measured in micrometres, and one micrometre is 1/1000 millimetre – extremely small. These particles are carried by wind and gases, and can be as small as 1 micrometre. For reference, the diameter of a human hair is around 75 micrometre, so these particles are extremely small.

Particles at around 10 micrometre (also known as PM10) are small enough to pass through your airways and into your lungs. Particles at PM2.5 are so small that they can enter your bloodstream through the lungs.

As these particles build up in your body, they can cause a number of health problems:

  • Irritated eyes and a burning sensation
  • Irritated nose and throat – runny noses are common
  • Aggravated asthma symptoms 
  • Aggravating lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and emphysema
  • Aggravating heart diseases such as congestive heart failure and arrhythmia

What can you do? When can you ride?

New South Wales’ official advice for protecting yourself from bushfire smoke includes:

  • Avoiding vigorous exercise
  • Spending more time indoors
  • Spending time in air conditioned venues

You could also use a P2/N95 face mask to reduce your exposure to breathing in particulate matter, but will also make it harder to breathe, especially when you’re riding a bike.

The only real option to not expose yourself to serious health risks if the air quality is bad is to get a roller trainer for your bicycle and work up a sweat inside at home.

How to check the air quality

Air quality is measured by the Air Quality Index. You can find their scores by visiting their website

 

The website readings are colour coded, which makes them easy to understand. For some further nuance, here are the official guidelines for air quality readings:

  • 0-50 – Good: Air quality is considered good, and air pollution poses little or no risk.
  • 51-100 – Moderate: Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution. Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.
  • 101-150 – Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups: Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is not likely to be affected. Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.
  • 151-200 – Unhealthy: Everyone may begin to experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects. Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.
  • 201-300 – Very unhealthy: Health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected. Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid all outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit outdoor exertion.
  • 300+ – Hazardous: Health alert: everyone may experience more serious health effects. Everyone should avoid all outdoor exertion

As you can see above, active children and adults should begin limiting their outdoor workouts already at 101 PPM. At the time of writing, parts of Victoria, including Melbourne, sit at around 160 PPM.

Unfortunately, the only way to stay safe from bushfire smoke is to avoid it as much as possible. If you have to ride, do it at the gym or on a roller trainer indoors. Smoke is very dangerous, and your one workout is not important enough to risk chronic lung problems.


Our 7 Top Tips for Cycling in the Rain

It’s that time of the year in Brisbane. Days of high heat, followed by days of suffocating humidity, followed by days of torrential downpour. It’s a familiar cycle for anyone who has spent more than one summer in Brissy.

Can you still ride your bike on rainy days in Brisbane? Absolutely! In fact, the cool change can be very welcome at times. But there are some modifications you should consider making, and we’ve tried to compress our top tips for wet weather riding into this blog post!

1. Lights (camera and action optional)

Lights are always important, but they are rarely more important than in the rain. Not only is it darker because it’s overcast, but drivers in cars have worse visibility in the rain. Making sure you are visible to everyone on the road needs to be your number one priority in the rain. Speaking of…

2. Waterproof hi-vis jacket

Your jacket should probably stay true to the ethos of keeping you seen and keeping you alive. Bright fluorescent colours will do wonders for that.

Your jacket should also be waterproof. As most experienced cyclists will know, the combination of windchill and being soaking wet is gruelling, and should be avoided if you can. Remember, though, that your waterproof jacket needs to have adequate ventilation because riding in the equivalent of a plastic bag is also a terrible experience.

3. Overshoes, gloves and a cap

When riding in cold conditions, it’s important that we do our best to cover and protect extremities because they will be affected first and worst. That means feet, hands and head.

Water resistant overshoes will keep your feet dry while you push pedals in the rain, and are a godsend. Waterproof gloves are also great, and will add a layer of protection from the windchill of the lowered temperatures.

The vents on your helmet are invaluable during scorching Brisbane summer days…. During those infamous afternoon storms? Not so much. Simply adding a cycling cap will keep most of the windchill off you. Plus, the peak should give your eyes some protection from rain droplets.

4. Wear glasses

Apropos protecting your eyes from the rain! The roads are slippery, cars seem less trustworthy, and the last thing you want is to get hit in the eye by a big raindrop. Dark glasses aren’t a good choice when it rains, so you should opt for clear or yellow lenses.

Water and droplets collecting on your lenses are also problematic, and many people avoid glasses for this reason, but you should know that there are hydrophobic sprays that treat your lenses and help you avoid this entirely!

5. Lower your tyre pressure

Riding in wet conditions means that you need to worry about your road grip, especially if it’s the first rain in weeks, as if often the case in Brisbane. Oils that have been building up in cracks of the road surface for a long time will be lifted up by rainwater, and will now be on your tyres and in your path. Not to mention, the wet is slippery in itself!

Lower your tyre pressure to give yourself a larger contact surface with the road and improve your grip. Some cyclists lower their tyre pressure by as much as 10-15 psi, but you should find what you’re comfortable with. You’ll be less efficient, but more safe. Ultimately, that seems like a good trade-off to us.

6. Avoid white lines

Many of you may have been unfortunate enough to experience how slippery the white lane markings can be in the dry, and they are even more dangerous in the wet.

Take extra care to be aware of the white lines, and try to avoid them if possible – especially on corners or zebra crossings.

7. Slow down and ride to conditions (and avoid puddles)

Riding in wet conditions isn’t inherently dangerous, it just carries more risk than perfect weather. Knowing this is half the battle, and changing your riding to suit the conditions is the other half. In general, it’s smart to slow down and take it easy. Now is not the time to push for a PB on your favourite route. Taking corners more slowly, as mentioned above, is very important. You should also take extra care to slow down if you’re on a route you’re not familiar with.

If at all possible, you should avoid puddles. Not just because they’ll splash you with dirty water, but more importantly because you have no way of knowing what hides underneath the surface.

We can all imagine what could happen if you ride into a deep pothole or a puddle hiding a big rock going at 40 km/h.


Best Bike Routes in Brisbane

Brisbane didn’t make the list when German insurance startup Coya ranked the 90 best cycling cities in the world in 2019, but that doesn’t mean that Brisbane is a bad city for cycling.

In fact, Brisbane has come a very long way in the decade cycle2city has been operating. Continuous improvements, new bikeway projects and the addition of new pedestrian bridges has turned Brisbane into one of Australia’s leading cycling cities, and plenty of new projects are in the planning stage to improve upon this!

Here’s some of our favourite Brisbane tracks to ride, in no particular order!

  • Wynnum To Manly

This beautiful bayside trail along the Wynnum Manly foreshore is lovely, no matter the time of year or if you’re riding during low or high tide. The views past the Manly marina, the Wynnum Wading Pool and the pier are terrific, and the ocean breeze will keep you cool on the warmest summer days.

At 6 kilometres, this is an easy trail that you can bring the whole family along to. Find maps and more information here.

  • Mount Coot-tha

This is a bit out of character for us since these are off road or mountain bike trails, but they are some of the most unique in Brisbane, and are a great experience. Covering more than 23 kms of tail, Mount Coot-tha has trails for beginners and advanced riders, and Brisbane’s best view to boot!

  • Veloway 1

Those cycling from south of Brisbane can hop on the Veloway 1 as far out at Eight Mile Plains, with multiple other access points. The separated bike path connects directly to Kangaroo Point Bikeway and Brisbane CBD, making it perfect for commuters.

Visit Cycling Brisbane for maps and more information.

  • Kedron Brook Bikeway

This track is a favourite for North-side Brisbanites. Stretching some 20 kms from Mitchelton to Nundah – or the other way around – the Kedron Brook Bikeway consists of pathways and separated bikeways, which makes for a very pleasant weekend ride.

Find maps and more information on the Cycling Brisbane website.

  • River loop

What good is the Brisbane River if we don’t take advantage of its beautiful vistas? Arguably the most popular bike route in the city, the river loop is suitable for both social riding and training. It starts at South Bank and will take you through the beautiful riverfront suburbs to the South-West of the city.

See the full route on Google Maps here.

What do you do after a rewarding bike ride? Stop by cycle2city after your ride to have a shower, freshen up in our air conditioned locker rooms, and get dressed in freshly dry-cleaned clothes. If you stop by our website, you can yourself grab a free 7 day trial today!


Top 5 Reasons to Commute by Bike

Cycling to work has a number of advantages over driving or taking public transport. Let’s take a closer look at the top 5 reasons why you should commute by bicycle!

Save time

As Brisbane’s population continues to grow, the traffic gets worse and worse. Rush hour is now packed with more cars and buses than ever, but you know who doesn’t get trapped in rush hour traffic?

Cyclists. Cycling to work is quicker than driving or taking public transport for many commuters in peak traffic. Cycling to work will always take the same amount of time, no matter how much – or little – traffic there is.

Save money

Cars are expensive. The average weekly fuel cost in Australia is $71.5. If you include insurance, repairs and services, the average two-car household in Brisbane spends almost $20,000 on their cars every year. Wow.

Parking in Brisbane adds another cost on top, if you’re even able to find somewhere to park.

Public transport is much cheaper, but has the inconvenience of not getting to choose when to drive. But just because it’s cheaper than driving doesn’t mean that it’s cheap. Single zone tickets will cost $6.62 return in Brisbane, which amounts to $1,655 per year.

Most people live in zone 2 or 3, which makes tickets significantly more expensive, and it’s not uncommon to pay more than $10 in public transport fare every day.

At cycle2city, you get secure bike storage, free towels, clean shower facilities and many more amenities from just $4.30 per day! 

Beat the time crunch by including exercise

Do you sometimes feel that you wish you could hit the gym and get in shape, but you just can’t find the time? Look no further! By cycling to work, you’ll save time and get your exercise in at the same time, leaving you to invest your time savings where you want.

Cycling to work has a large range of health benefits like protecting you from serious diseases such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, diabetes and arthritis. All this while being a form of exercise that has a low barrier to entry and a low impact on joints!

Fresh air

Gettin out in the fresh air just feels great, there’s no other way around it. Especially here in Queensland, where we are blessed with some of the best weather in the world year-round.

It’s a great way to unwind and blow off some steam after a stressful workday, and getting a break from our computer and mobile screens is a welcome change of pace.

Riding your bike is also a benefit for the people around you because cycling is a zero-emission mode of transport. A solo driver in an average vehicle releases about 1 kilo of C02 per 3 kilometers, an average cyclist releases 1.4 grams.

Transport accounts for approximately 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, and switching to riding a bike is one of the best things you can do for the environment.

Safety and the virtuous cycle

Feel like cycling to Brisbane is unsafe? It may seem counterintuitive, but the more cyclists we have on our roads, the less likely we are to have cyclists being struck by cars in traffic.

This is because cyclist safety is a virtuous cycle. Dr Julie Hatfield of The University of New South Wales says that “the likelihood that an individual cyclist will be struck by a motorist falls with increasing rate of bicycling in a community. And the safer cycling is perceived to be, the more people are prepared to cycle.”

This isn’t because there are less drivers overall, but because the drivers change their behaviour and become more cautious and careful as they become used to sharing the road with cyclists. This means that cycling is seen as safer, which means that more people begin cycling to work, and the cycle continues!

 

Are you interested in starting to cycle to work? At cycle2city, we offer a 7 day free trial that includes full use of our state of the art facilities:

  • 420 bike parking spaces utilising the latest German technology
  • Secure electronic entry for members
  • 270 secure lockers and 18 showers for men
  • 150 secure lockers and 15 showers for women
  • 12 lockers in the people with disability area
  • A fresh towel provided daily
  • Irons & ironing boards
  • Hair dryers
  • Access to valet laundry and cleaning service
  • Air-conditioned locker rooms
  • A full-service on-site bicycle workshop
  • Small retail area providing basic “commuter emergency items” from toothpaste to bicycle accessories.

Click here to sign up to your 7 day free trial today!


Brisbane Councillor Schrinner visits Cycle2City

Great to catch up and show Cr Adrian Schrinner Cycle2City facilities and discuss future opportunities. We thank Cr Schrnner for taking time to vist and discuss bringing bigger and better options to our members. Cycle2City prides itself on innovation, we were one of the firsts to introduce such a facility to Brisbane. We provide an alternative to public transport with high quality, safe and secure bike parking, showers, lockers and support services at great value for money so that cycle commuting becomes the absolute pleasure it should be.

Our facilities are superior to most End of Trip Facilities found amongst newer buildings. Did you know you get your own locker, hot shower and a fresh daily towel to use all for the low cost of $4.88 per day (12mnth membership). We also offer great discounted rates to businesses either small or large in Brisbane. Be part of the Cycle2City movement by joining today or contact us directly reception@cycle2city.com.au

https://cycle2city.com.au/become-a-member/