Biking is caring…

Biking in the narrow alleys of Barcelona saves lives! Read below for more details!

In July, Boston launched its own biking-sharing network called the Hubway.  Paris just celebrated the 4th birthday of one of its finest contributions to the world – the Velib.  UC Irvine has had its own communal bikes (the Zotwheels) since 2008, and Manhattan Beach will soon roll out a fleet of Baiku Bikes for its community.  Bike-sharing is a trend whose time has come – in fact, check out the global bike-sharing map at the Bike-Sharing Blog – and, happily, Santa Monica just held a forum to discuss this possibility in our own neck of the woods.

I, personally, don’t think we need much more discussion on the why of bike-sharing programs; the more pressing topic now is the how.  But here it is anyway: a study (“The health risks and benefits of cycling in urban environments compared with car use: health impact assessment study“) published in the British Medical Journal, showing the benefits of biking (via bike sharing) outweighing the risks, resulting in a net 12 lives saved:

Abstract

Objective To estimate the risks and benefits to health of travel by bicycle, using a bicycle sharing scheme, compared with travel by car in an urban environment.

Design Health impact assessment study.

Setting Public bicycle sharing initiative, Bicing, in Barcelona, Spain.

Participants 181,982 Bicing subscribers.

Main outcomes measures The primary outcome measure was all cause mortality for the three domains of physical activity, air pollution (exposure to particulate matter <2.5 µm), and road traffic incidents. The secondary outcome was change in levels of carbon dioxide emissions.

Results Compared with car users the estimated annual change in mortality of the Barcelona residents using Bicing (n=181,982) was 0.03 deaths from road traffic incidents and 0.13 deaths from air pollution. As a result of physical activity, 12.46 deaths were avoided (benefit:risk ratio 77). The annual number of deaths avoided was 12.28. As a result of journeys by Bicing, annual carbon dioxide emissions were reduced by an estimated 9,062,344 kg.

Conclusions Public bicycle sharing initiatives such as Bicing in Barcelona have greater benefits than risks to health and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

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