04/25/2015 09:22 EDT | Updated 07/25/2015 08:59 EDT

Clean Ride Mapper helps cyclists limit pollution exposure

A new online tool developed by researchers at McGill University aims to help cyclists breathe a little easier. 

Clean Ride Mapper can help cyclists in Montreal and Toronto find the least-polluted bike routes.

It maps out three different options: The fastest route, the cleanest route and the quietest route."It's not just for cyclists. It's for people who walk or have a store, or who live in a polluted area, too," said Marianne Hatzopoulou, an assistant professor at McGill and the brains behind the app.

Since 2012, the McGill researchers have been collecting data by biking through the city with a pollutant-monitoring device attached to the front of the bikes. 

Originally, the goal of the research was to study the causes of air pollution in Montreal, but the researchers wanted the information to be more accessible to the public.

Hatzopoulou said putting air pollution sensors — which cost about $500 each — on Bixi bikes could help the city better understand where and how people commute, and what kind of pollution levels they're exposed to.

'You're not safe' from pollution

According to Hatzopoulou, pedestrians and cyclists are more vulnerable to pollutants than drivers.

"People who are responsible for the success of good policies are actually bearing the most negative effects," she said.

She said Montreal's air pollution levels are on par with Toronto, despite it being a smaller, less populous city.

And while the conditions aren't as bad Beijing or Mexico, research has shown a link between adverse health effects and pollution even at "low" levels.

"You're not safe," she said.