Ditch the Car, Grab a Bike; New Study Demonstrates the Health Benefits of Cycling
Urban centers have long struggled with air quality issues and the growing congestion of city streets. New research suggests that expanding their biking infrastructure would help cities address those concerns while also improving public health.
The study, conducted in Europe, demonstrated the advantages of biking over other transportation choices. Researchers found that city residents who regularly used bikes to get around benefited both physically and mentally.
In the study, led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), researchers compared various transportation choices including cars, motorbikes, public transport, bikes, and walking. They then questioned 8,000 people in seven European cities about their transportation experiences.
Environment International: The findings, published in Environment International, show that cycling yielded the best results in every analysis. Bicycles were associated with better self-perceived general health, better mental health, greater vitality, lower self-perceived stress and fewer feelings of loneliness. The second most beneficial transport mode, walking, was associated with good self-perceived general health, greater vitality, and more contact with friends and/or family.
IS Global: Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, coordinator of the study and director of the Urban Planning, Environment and Health Initiative at ISGlobal, commented: “Transport is not just a matter of mobility; it also has to do with public health and the well-being of the population.” The study’s findings, he noted, show yet again that “an integrated approach to urban planning, transport planning and public health is needed in order to develop policies that promote active transport, such as adding more segregated cycle lanes in Barcelona, which are transforming the city into a better environment for cyclists.
This study reinforces earlier research which demonstrated the health benefits of biking.
IS Global: "One study found that cyclists have a lower body mass index than non-cyclists, and another suggested that as many as 10,000 deaths could be prevented by expanding cycling networks in European cities."