Air pollution represents one of the greatest risks to human health, with most of the world’s cities exceeding World Health Organization’s recommendations for air quality. In developing countries, a major share of air pollution comes from traffic, consequently, creating air pollution hot spots inside urban street networks. While the world needs to switch to more active and sustainable ways of commuting in order to reduce traffic emissions and help improve degrading cardiopulmonary health due to increasingly sedentary habits, studies point to the negative effects of physical activity near traffic emissions. Common approaches of urban cycling infrastructure planning rely on space availability and route needs, omitting the most vital aspect—air quality. This study, therefore, combines the worldwide need for active commute and health benefits of the cyclists. Our goal was to produce urban pollution map through the geoprocessing of Google Traffic data, validated through the correlation of street level PM2.5 (particulate matter <2.5 μm) concentrations and traffic intensity in a selected district of Quito, Ecuador. The multidisciplinary approach presented in this study can be used by city planners all over the world to help identify the cycling network based on air quality conditions and, consequently, promoting active travel.
Part of the book: Air Pollution