A win-win for cyclists – measuring effects of the transport transition on air quality

Recently, the team of the “Climate Change and Air Pollution” (ClimPol) project published an article in Environmental Research Letters detailing the results of a measurement campaign conducted along Kottbusser Damm in Berlin-Kreuzberg. In short, we found that the implementation of a protected pop-up bike-lane along the street reduced the amount of air pollution cyclists were exposed to by 22%. On its own this is a significant, but perhaps not unexpected result. However, to set these results in their proper context, first we need to rewind back to 2018.

Cycling through times of change

In Berlin, one unique change that has continued to develop over the past few months is the installation of “Pop-up” bike lanes on busy streets around the city. Citing the pandemic, city officials have been fast-tracking plans for new, protected bike lanes in order to allow citizens to travel safely by bike and avoid overcrowding in public transport. A recent IASS Study shows that these new bike lanes are strongly supported by people who identify primarily as cyclists, pedestrians, or users of public transport, but are disliked by those who identify as car drivers. While these results are unsurprising, they capture Berlin’s quite recent citizen-led shift in transport policy, ultimately culminating in the recent Mobility Law of 2018. That does not mean, however, that these new bike lanes are without criticism.

Talk, Trust, and Time: Bridging the Gap between Science and Policy

Just two months ago I strolled up to the bank building of the IASS itching to start gaining practical research experience, but with no idea of what to expect. Coming from a background of environmental science and being enrolled in a Master’s program aimed at bridging the gap between science and policy, I was prepared to fit right in to the IASS community. Only, I didn’t realize just how motivating this experience would become. Under the supervision of Dr Erika von Schneidemesser, I was tasked with documenting case studies of science-policy engagement.