Thursday, March 10, 2011

Do you ever wonder if the health benefits associated with bicycling outweigh the safety risks? They do... by 9 times.

If you're like me and you can't read the whole study, here's the abstract. If you prefer to check the statistical methodology, here's the link to the full study. As my favorite professor used to say, "You can smell the science!"

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.

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