Health and Environmental Benefits of Cycling

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By Charles Pekow — Global warming. COVID19 pandemic. We've been living through quite a devastating era. But a new study says that bicycling can partially relieve the destruction of these menaces. The Potential Health and Environmental Benefits of Cycling in the U.S says, “Increasing the extent to which populations engage in health-oriented transportation, such as walking and cycling, could help to slow or reverse the advance of these crises by increasing overall physical fitness and decreasing vehicle emissions which contribute to air pollution and climate change.”

That said, the presenters come with a bias. The paper was released by the Initiative for Health-Oriented Transportation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute. TREK Bicycle Co. funded the study.

The main conclusion is rather obvious, saying “walking and cycling in lieu of routine driving is one of the most effective ways to improve human health and can help mitigate climate change.”

Climate change is killing people because of floods, wildfires, reduced food supply, allergies, and respiratory disease from smog, etc. Obesity and lack of exercise kill people too. The paper notes that while only about one percent of urban trips in American cities are taken by bike, about 40 percent are in Amsterdam. “We estimate that if the metropolitan areas of the United States were to achieve 40 percent, approximately 70,000 deaths due to chronic disease would be averted each year in the U.S.,” it suggests.

A somewhat more plausible goal: “Approximately 20,000 annual deaths due to chronic disease could be averted if U.S. metropolitan areas increased their cycling percentage to six percent of trips, the rate seen in Madison, Wisconsin” as well as 28,000 cases of cardiovascular disease and 22,000 cases of diabetes.

Find the report at https://ghi.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/168/2021/04/Bicycling-Climate-and-Health-White-Paper-1.pdf.

 

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