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Health Benefits of Bicycling to Work and School

Aug 29th, 2012
Staff Writer

Bicycling business men || Photo credit: iStock photoVehicle traffic crowds the roads of every urban city in the world. To find relief from this, or for other reasons, many commuters have been drawn toward the bicycle lane.

One in three Copenhagen residents travels to work or education, according to the Health Impact Assessment of Cycling, published in the August publication of the British Medical Journal. Department of Public Health researchers at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark investigated the effects of bicycling to work or school on health and mortality in order to help the city improve public transportation.

Copenhagen city planners hope to improve the proportion of bike commuters in the city to 50% by 2015, according to the Technical and Environmental Administration. Copenhagen University measured both the positive and negative health effects of bike riding in the city. Among these were physical inactivity, air pollution and road traffic accidents.

According to their results, a successful shift in travel method (from car to bicycle) would reduce overall inactivity by 3%. They found that bicyclists were exposed to equivalent air pollution in their travels, but that fatal or serious accidents were more likely on bike than in car (0.18 vs. 0.01 incidents per million kilometers traveled, respectively).

The primary result from the study was a total decrease in the burden of disease. This meant a decrease in heart disease, cancer and Type II diabetes for the biking population.

The study conclusion indicates a positive benefit from transportation method intervention, but with precaution. The possibility of injury is much greater on a bicycle, and so the researchers infer that, “it is important to focus on improving cycling safety,” in order to improve the overall advantage of pedal pushing to school and work.

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