York grad begins cross-Canada bike ride for Lung Association

A group of 20-somethings – including York student Raluca Popescu – are pedalling Canada’s highways this summer to raise awareness about healthy lungs.

Right: Mike Ellis (left), Raluca Popescu, Kristin Boorse, Domenic Senici and Vanessa Wong  

The five-member Cycling for Clean Air team kicked off their cross-Canada biking tour on Canada Day from Victoria, BC.

The goal of the campaign is to raise financial support and public awareness for the Lung Association and its programs. By modeling sustainable travel from coast-to-coast, they intend to demonstrate that there are measures everyone can take to protect the air we breathe and keep our lungs healthy. The campaign comes just after Ontario has implemented its new Smoke-Free Ontario Act.

The team started pedalling at 9am from Mile 0 of the Trans-Canada Highway in Victoria and are scheduled to end in St. John’s, Newfoundland, on Sept. 12.

Popescu is cycling with Domenic Senici, Vanessa Wong, Mike Ellis and Kristin Boorse.

Popescu has just graduated from York University with a specialized honours BSc in chemistry. She completed her research thesis with York’s Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry. The Mississauga resident plans to begin her graduate degree in environmental and atmospheric chemistry in September at York.

Left: Raluca Popescu

Last summer, Popescu took part in Kensington Market’s Pedestrian Sundays, taking air samples, explaining the dangers of car emissions and urging locals to make their neighbourhood a pedestrian-only zone. Her passion for the cause comes from personal experience. Popescu’s grandfather, a heavy smoker, died of cancer, and her grandmother is undergoing treatments for lung cancer.

During the cross-country tour, Popescu will ride her bike for half the time and help drive the support vehicle the other half. Her role will be mainly to secure accommodations, buy supplies and prepare meals for the crew.

“It would be nice if people follow our journey and start thinking about the environment and air quality,” she says. “Raising awareness is just as important as raising money and I hope that some people will be inspired by our campaign and become more active in improving air quality.”

Senici is an environment and resource studies major at the University of Waterloo. Ellis is a graduate of geography and drama from the University of Toronto. Boorse is a recent graduate of environment and resource studies at the University of Waterloo. Wong is a third-year environmental studies student specializing in urban planning with a French minor at the University of Waterloo.

To make a donation or to follow the cyclists on their journey, visit the Cycling for Clean Air Web site.