Bicycle transit is becoming a huge part of green transportation and cleaner cities, but the only way bikes can truly make a difference in our pollution levels is if each individual bike replaces a hypothetical car. In cities where most people already get around by public transit (which, coincidentally, are the cities encouraging the most bike use), bikes perhaps should be pulling more weight. Not to mention, air pollution in streets can be bad enough to make riding a bike as injurious to your lungs as smoking a pack of cigarettes, particularly in smoggy areas such as Bangkok.
That very city’s Lightfog Studio has an interesting answer to these problems: a battery-powered bike with a small (possibly personal-sized) air filter and a “photosynthesis system” that generates oxygen from water, electricity and the lithium-ion battery in the bike. It’s unclear how the air filter would be powered, but hopefully the kinetic energy would somehow be involved, as the large battery seems more suited to powering the bike’s movement. A prototype has not yet been built – there are only mockups – but the product has already won a Red Dot award in the “Green” category.
Though it will take time before the model becomes practical, the idea of personal air purification is certainly one that deserves more investigation, as the investments of just a few individuals on a given street could benefit everybody.