Cycling Is Good For You, Safe, And Good For Everyone Else, So Says Science

Written by Boston Biker on Sep 29

If the traffic crashes and fatalities being at record low levels was not enough to convince you that cycling is safe, check out this new study about the health risks (or lack thereof) regarding cycling.

Its written in science language but I have made bold the area that you should be concerned about, read the whole thing here.

Although from a societal point of view a modal shift from car to bicycle may have beneficial health effects due to decreased air pollution emissions, decreased greenhouse gas emissions, and increased levels of physical activity, shifts in individual adverse health effects such as higher exposure to air pollution and risk of a traffic accident may prevail.

Objective: We describe whether the health benefits from the increased physical activity of a modal shift for urban commutes outweigh the health risks.

Data sources and extraction: We have summarized the literature for air pollution, traffic accidents, and physical activity using systematic reviews supplemented with recent key studies.

Data synthesis: We quantified the impact on all-cause mortality when 500,000 people would make a transition from car to bicycle for short trips on a daily basis in the Netherlands. We have expressed mortality impacts in life-years gained or lost, using life table calculations. For individuals who shift from car to bicycle, we estimated that beneficial effects of increased physical activity are substantially larger (3–14 months gained) than the potential mortality effect of increased inhaled air pollution doses (0.8–40 days lost) and the increase in traffic accidents (5–9 days lost). Societal benefits are even larger because of a modest reduction in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and traffic accidents.

Conclusions: On average, the estimated health benefits of cycling were substantially larger than the risks relative to car driving for individuals shifting their mode of transport.

From a societal point of view, shifting from cars to other forms of transportation, such as bicycles, may have beneficial health effects due to decreased air pollution emissions, decreased greenhouse gas emissions, and increased levels of physical activity. However, increased use of bicycles may increase both personal exposure to air pollutants and the risk of traffic accidents. De Hartog et al. (p. 1109) reviewed the literature for air pollution, traffic accidents, and physical activity and estimated the impact on all-cause mortality if 500,000 people shifted from cars to bicycles for short trips on a daily basis. The authors expressed the impact on mortality in life-years gained or lost using life table calculations. For individuals shifting from cars to bicycles, the authors estimated that beneficial effects of increased physical activity would be substantially larger than potential mortality due to increased air pollution exposure and traffic accidents. Societal benefits of cycling were even larger due to a modest reduction in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and traffic accidents. The authors conclude that the health benefits of cycling are on average nine times greater than the risks associated with driving a car.

Or to summarize, yes you are going to be putting yourself at a little risk due to pollution while riding your bike, but its better for you to suck down a little exhaust and be active than sit around in your car and suck down exhaust. Plus you are making life better for everyone else as well.

The study goes on to consider accidents, and other dangers associated with cycling, and finds overall that you are much better off cycling than not.

You can read more here.


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Posted in advocacy, education, news | 3 Comments »


3 Responses to “Cycling Is Good For You, Safe, And Good For Everyone Else, So Says Science”

  1. By dotriderblog on Sep 29, 2010 | Reply

    I’m evidence of that. 30 pounds lighter and using 150 less gallons of gasoline each year. Just riding 10-15 miles per day is all it took. No racing or spandex required.

  2. By Marianna on Sep 29, 2010 | Reply

    I just had “words” on facebook with some old friends about how “roads are for cars” and “when we were in drivers’ ed biking wasn’t as big a fad” – And what it boils down to is that they must honestly WANT more cars on the road. I don’t understand why anyone drives inside city limits!

  3. By giuseppe on Nov 16, 2011 | Reply

    agreed, however as cyclists we need to do our part. many of us think that red lights don’t count for bikes… that has to change

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