01 December 2007

For the Good of Society - Health Benefits of Cycling


The fact that cycling is healthy is not a newsflash.
However, as we highlighted in a previous post over at Copenhagen Cycle Chic, about why this city rides bikes so much, the majority of Copenhageners don't ride primarily to save the world or because they're health fanatics.

According to the study:
54% ride because it is easy and fast.
19% ride because of the benefits of excercising.
7% ride because it is cheap.
6% ride because it is handy.
1% ride because of the environmental benefits.

Nevertheless, the Copenhagen City Council - in their Biannual Cycle Report - had the consultancy company Trafitec rate the societal and health aspects of our bicycle culture. While these figures are specific to Copenhagen, based on our current levels of health and welfare, the results and stats are interesting nonetheless.

Just the facts:
- Physically active people live ca. 5 years longer than the physically inactive.
- Physically inactive persons suffer on average for four more years from lengthy illnesses.
- Cycling has the same effect on health as other types of excercise. Four hours of cycling a week, or roughly 10 km a day is a fitting level - luckily for us, this is the average bike usage in Copenhagen - back and forth to work and running errands.

The study from Trafitec shows that 1 extra cycle kilometre produces, on average, 5 kroner in health and production bonus for society.

Increased cycling levels in Copenhagen therefore has a great potential for improving our health levels. [Exchange rate: 1 DKK = $1 / 50p / € .66]
Here are two scenarios that illustrate the positive connection between cycling, health and economy.>

1. If Copenhageners rode 10% more kilometres each year:
- This would be an increase of 41 million extra cycling kilometres each year. [At the moment we ride 1.2 million km each day in Copenhagen.]
- The health system would save 59 million DKK per year.
- We would save 155 million DKK in lost production manhours (due to illness)
- There would be 57,000 fewer sick days in the workplace each year. That would be a reduction of 3.3%.
- 61,000 extra life years
- 46,000 fewer years with lengthy illnesses.

2. One extra kilometre of bike lanes on a road:
Building bike lanes on streets with an average of 2,500 bikes and 10,000 cars each day would bring 18-20% more bikes on the stretch of road.
Including a drop of 9-10% in the number of cars and 9-10% fewer accidents and injury.
- A saving of 246,000 DKK in the health sector.
- A saving of of 643,000 DKK in lost production.
- A collective fall in health, production and accident costs each year totalling 633,000 DKK.
- The extra kilometre would give 170,000 more cycle kilometres each year.

All that from one extra kilometre of bike lane.

On your bikes.

4 comments:

Ed said...

I've just returned from a trip to London & Paris (I'm from the US) and I noticed a marked increase in urban cycling in both cities. In London folks were commuting in the pouring rain as if it were a sunny day, and they were outpacing their fossil fueled counterparts. In Paris the Velib program was in full stride, especially with the transit strike going on.

Now if only the US would wake up...

Zakkaliciousness said...

yeah, mate, there are some good things happening. finally the big cities are waking up and doing what the middle-sized cities have been doing for decades.

there's a lot of good spirit 'over there' with some good people in good cities doing their thing. here's crossing our fingers...

Morten said...

Hi, great blog
Do you have an exact title or a link to the report on health you refer to ?
Some other reports you might find useful :
http://www.citeulike.org/article/1309894
http://www.citeulike.org/article/997749

Zakkaliciousness said...

The figures are from the Cykel Regnskab 2006 - the biannual bike policy report from the City of Copenhagen.
I've translated the stats for this blog, as the report is in Danish.
but it's downloadable as a pdf HERE