Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde has announced the next phase of his Smog Free Project: a bicycle that absorbs contaminated air and releases purified air in a cloud around the cyclist.
According to Roosegaarde, whose design firm Studio Roosegaarde has offices in both Rotterdam and Beijing, the idea of its Smog Free Project came up just over three years ago, while looking out the window of its apartment in Beijing. On a Saturday, the city skyline is visible; On weekdays, it is wrapped in smog.
Roosegaarde first proposed a “smog vacuum” to remove pollutants from the heavens in 2013. This became an air purification tower that, after a successful Kickstarter campaign, has just been presented in a public park in Tianjin. The Smog Free Tower uses a positive ionization to remove particles from the surrounding air, expelling purified air through the vents on the side. Now the same technology is being applied, in theory, anyway, to bicycles.
“Bicycles have always been a symbol of energy-friendly life and congestion reduction, but this bicycle has a dual function of cleaning the air as you drive,” says Roosegaarde. “For me, the design has never been to create another chair or another table. We must use creativity to improve the way we live. ”
Beijing and Tianjin are just two of the 300 cities in China that did not pass the air quality tests in 2015, according to Greenpeace. More than 1.6 million people die each year in China from breathing toxic air, and in December a highly publicized “airpocalypse” hit 460 million people, who were exposed to smog levels six times higher than the WHO’s daily guidelines. The flights were grounded and schools closed, as 24 cities in China were put on “red alert” for extreme smog.
“The healthiest cities and urban innovation will always be connected with large-scale government investments,” says Roosegaarde. “But I’m too impatient to wait for the change to fall. “The government does from top to bottom, and designers, universities, and NGOs do it from bottom to top, and we hope we meet in the middle.”
Roosegaarde expects smog-free bicycles to be adopted by the increasingly popular bicycle-sharing programs in China, there are 29 in total across the country, such as Mobike, Bluegogo, and Ofo.
“Of course, a tower and some bicycles will not solve the problem of air pollution in China, but smokeless bicycles are an exciting idea that, hopefully, will activate communities to create greener cities,” says Roosegaarde. “Our aspirations are being redefined; In the future, the greatest luxury will not be a Louis Vuitton bag. It will be clean air. ”