The advantages of riding a bike are many, but let’s just mention here that, by choosing a bicycle to move around, you don’t add to the pollution, you get a workout (yes, even on an e-bike) and you still have time to enjoy yourself. You could soon add another benefit to this list, one that would top them all: by cycling, you could be actively providing fresh air to your fellow city-dwellers.
The idea of using a bicycle to actively filter air and coimbat pollution on the go is not new, having been used for several concepts before. This time, though, it’s not a bicycle that’s doing the filtering, but a very special wheel, the ROLLOE.
ROLLOE is a three-spoke mag wheel with two hubcap-like attachments, that sits in the front of the bike and weighs just 1,050g (2.3 pounds). Between the wheel and the hubcaps, there are three different filters and fins through which filtered air would be pushed out. Filthy air is sucked in through the central gravity by centrifugal force and pushed out through the fins. In theory, Tapping explains, the harder you pedal, the more air you’re able to purify.
The most obvious advantage is that you get to do it smack where it’s most needed: in crowded areas, where there’s heavy traffic.
Tapping got the idea while riding through London and experiencing for herself the exhaust fumes, the heat coming off and the dust. She estimates that, if as little as 10 percent of London cycles used ROLLOE, they would filter 20 times the size of Trafalgar Square. Or, speaking in numbers, if Santander bikes used in 2018 had had ROLLOE, they would have produced 79,865 m3 of clean, filtered air.
Tapping is targeting the bicycle ride-sharing companies first with this invention, but she has plans for privately owned bikes as well. Santander or Mobike fleets could use ROLLOE and encourage cyclists to pedal more by tracking their progress and their location, through a variety of rewards. For privately owned bicycles, TfL (Transport for London) could step in and pay for the device itself and regular maintenance, as a means to get more owners to have the wheel put in instead of the regular one.
If Tapping secures funding and the ROLLOE goes into production, she’s also considering developing a similar rear wheel (which is trickier because of the drivetrain), various sizes for the current one, and even different color schemes. But as it is right now, this project is incredibly promising and theoretically able to render the greenest means of transport truly carbon-negative.