All I need is the air that I breathe.

I read somewhere that Belfast is the most car reliant city in the whole of the UK.  Certainly, between all the diesel cars and the numerous busses spewing fumes, the air in Belfast stinks.  On the government air quality site (, nitrogen dioxide levels in Belfast are currently 77 µgm-3. , this being only level 2 on a 10 point scale despite being almost twice the EU permitted maximum 0f 40 µgm-3 .  After commuting in or out of the city, I can often physically taste the fumes!

This is one of the few things that I really dislike about commuting by bike, but then again, walking, driving or using public transport in the city still exposes everyone to these pollutants.  Some time ago, I had bought a few masks as above but there was insufficient space to fit them into my full face helmet.  And so, recently, I bought a flip front helmet.  With this, I can put the mask on before lowering the chin piece.  To that extent it works, since  the mask can now be worn.  It is still a tight fit though, and I have had to remove the helmets chin cover so there is now an extra draft which is pretty damned cold here in our January weather!  Still, there is no point in saving an hour a day by travelling by bike if you lose a couple of years off your life through asthma or something worse.  At least through the mask the air smells reasonable fresh.

More of a problem is the excessively large casing for the chin pieces hinge mechanism that protrudes into each side of the helmet and drastically reduces the space available for my ears.  This is damned uncomfortable after 5 minutes or so, and spoils what would otherwise be a decent helmet.  It's my own fault for trying out the cheap option of online January sales.  Next time I buy a helmet, I'll go back to a local dealer where I can try the helmet on in advance.

My only query is why no helmet manufacturer has thought to make a helmet with a built in mask for city commuters?  The engine of all cars and bikes have air filters.  If these mechanical devices deserve clean air, why don't we?


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