These Bicycles Filter Smog Out Of The Air While You Pedal

Dan Roosegaarde is a Dutch artist and innovator that's created numerous smog-free projects. After having success with a tower located in multiple cities, he's now in the process of creating bikes that can filter out smog and keep cars at home.


May 22 2019, Updated 2:56 p.m. ET

Smog continues to be a serious health issue in major cities across the world. While not yet finalized, one artist may have discovered a sustainable, accessible way for every person to contribute to reducing the pollution in our air: Bikes that create clean air while you pedal, whether you're on your way to work, school, or just getting some exercise.

Dutch innovator Dan Roosegaarde, who is the founder of Studio Roosegaarde, is the man behind numerous smog free projects. Two years ago, he launched a Kickstarter to fund the Smog Free Tower in cities like Rotterdam and Beijing. In this case, those that supported the construction could get objects like smog-free cubes and rings based on the level of monetary contribution. Both objects are able to capture smog out of 1,000 cubic meters of air.

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His latest project is smog-free bikes. While these are still in development, Roosegaarde hopes to create a process of sucking up the smog in the air, filtering it through a system attached to the bike, and releasing clean oxygen. The cyclist would generate this system through their own pedaling.

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Obviously, this creates another benefit. With more people not using their cars, that will limit the emission of gasses in the air that contribute to the smog. It’s twice as good as leaving the vehicle home and walking to another place. Bigger cities also have a wide variety of areas and bike lanes for potential cyclists, which makes this an accessible option for many. 

Some cities have thrived with their inhabitants using bikes. Roosegaarde told Alice Morby of Dezeen that this new project could recreate the nostalgia of bikes and would “follow our ethos of making citizens apart of the solution instead of the problem.” He also knows that a big way to get this project off and running is to get the government involved. As he explains, "It will always be connected with big programs of government and green technology and electric cars. They do top-down, we do bottom-up, and we meet in the middle."

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Cleaning up China’s capital city has always been the goal for Roosegaarde’s visions. He believes that creating the Rotterdam tower, where he’s based, gave him and his team the ability to show off the possibilities and to improve on it. Thanks to the tower, he’s received support from the Chinese government on future projects, including the new bikes.

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There’s a number of other projects that Roosegaarde has been a part of. Three years ago, he investigated the potential for glow-in-the-dark trees by researching jellyfish. DNA from bacteria that creates the light could have a similar effect with a houseplant, and it could potentially eliminate the need for street lights. Another concept is the creation of “smart” streets. According to the official website, these would use “light, energy, and information that interact with the traffic situation.”

While those projects are still in concept form, the bikes could have a tremendous impact in big cities. Bike sharing is becoming more common in general, with more people cycling in 43 out of the 70 biggest cities in the country. It would only be that much better if these bikes were installed with the ability to eliminate smog.


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