Why do you choose cycling to work?
I realised cycling is a cheaper, more reliable and (even) enjoyable mode of transport compared to the unreliable, overcrowded & expensive public transport. I’m least interested in cycling sports, but I’m glad that I made the decision to cycle for my everyday transport.
Adding all the bicycle-related cost (bike, locks, mask, clothes etc. altogether) is equivalent of buying a 4-month travel ticket in London. Even including maintenance cost, I’m financially better-off cycling than using public transport.
Another factor is reliability. Cycling may take a bit longer and require more physical effort, but at least its duration is predictable. Commuting on a public transport is always full of confusion and frustration due to unreliable service and overcrowding. But once I started cycling, to my surprise the whole set of travel-related stress has disappeared and I discovered happier me.
When I started cycling I was scared my socks off for the first 2-3 months, but if you take it as a small adventure for the first time and repeat the route carefully, the nervous excitement will wear off and cycling will become everyday activity after a while.
To cycle safely amongst large vehicles, you just need to know the DOs and DON’Ts around those vehicles. As long as you adhere to it, those big guys won’t harm you. If you respect other general traffic rules, the motorists will respect your presence in return. You cycle alone but you share the space with everyone else.
How is your experience of using Totobobo mask in London?
I use Totobobo mask all the time as I cycle everywhere in London.
Since I began commuting to the centre of London where traffic pollution is worst, I started using double 96% filter for my mask.
With single filter I get discomfort in my throat after every journey because of the heavy traffic, but with double filter I can clearly feel the improvement. Previously I keep producing small amount of sputum for a couple of hours after every journey, whereas with double filter, I don’t get that ‘ahem…ahem, ahem…’ phase, virtually none.
Obviously using double filter limits my inhalation, but I’m happy to take this trade-off for greatly reducing discomfort caused by pollution.
I have been using double filter nearly every day for about 4 months, and so far there’s no lasting respiratory impact, only short period of breathlessness immediately after a journey.
With the mask, I’m more willing to travel longer distance without worrying about the level of pollution, it also allows me to cycle safely as I’m not compelled to move away from the rear of a vehicle when it is unsafe to do so.
I do intensive exercise regularly so I know my respiration capacity is stronger than the average person, but I’m also aware that there might be a long term negative impact of having double filter.
(Note: Double layer of filter may cause discomfort and can be damaging for special group of user. Consult your doctor before applying double filter on your mask.)
Have you tried other brands (of mask) before?
No, but other products didn’t look so air-tight while Totobobo taking less space to carry around. Other product looked either too elaborate or too flimsy. Totobobo seemed to me hitting the right balance.
The rather clinical look of the mask sometimes raise eyebrows, but I think it’s just an outcome of that famous principle ‘form follows function’.