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Cycling rally to promote air quality awareness Saturday

Cyclists will take off from Sundance Square on Saturday for the Clean Air Bike Rally, an 8.5 mile bike ride through downtown Fort Worth and Trinity Trails with the aim of raising awareness about the need for air quality improvement in Fort Worth.

This is the first year the route has included trails and streets. Hunter said event coordinators want to encourage biking for recreation and transportation and show cyclists that downtown streets are bicycle-friendly.

Joan Hunter, communications manager for the T, the mass transit system in Fort Worth and one of the companies sponsoring the rally, said having a bike and mass transit system made it possible to go anywhere in the city.

In 2009, Dallas-Fort Worth was seventh-most ozone polluted city in the United States, according to a report published by the American Lung Association. Ozone is the most widespread form of air pollution and is usually known as smog.

The ozone layer found in the upper atmosphere is beneficial because it prevents the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Smog, the ozone air pollution at ground level, is harmful and can cause serious health problems, according to the American Lung Association. The City of Fort Worth website warns residents about the dangers of bad ozone. Children and people with pre-existing lung problems are most sensitive to the health effects of ozone because inhaling it can affect lung function and worsen asthma attacks.

“I can tell when air quality is worse than usual,” Kim Raines, a junior nursing major said. “It’s harder to breath, especially if I try to work out outside.”

According to the North Texas Clean Air Coalition, another sponsor of the Clean Air Bike Rally, on-road vehicles cause half the ozone-forming emissions. The organization works with cities, businesses and residents on ways to improve the air quality of their community.

NTCAC recommends using mass transit, carpooling or biking as a way to reduce ozone and improve the air quality in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Hunter said more than 400 people have already pre-registered for the Clean Air Bike Rally.

Registration is free, but donations benefit the Fort Worth Bike Patrol Support Group.

Anyone wishing to participate in the Clean Air Bike Rally may pre-register online until Oct. 15. The rally starts at 9 a.m. Saturday.

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