The Life-Sized City Blog: Cycling, Health and the Facts

The Copenhagen City City Council had the consultancy company Trafitec to rate the societal and health aspects of our bicycle culture. The figures are specific to Copenhagen, based on our current levels of health and welfare, but the results and stats are fascinating.
Physically active people live ca. 5 years longer than physically inactive.
Physically inactive persons suffer on average for four more years from lengthy illnesses.
Cycling has the same effect on health as other types of excercise. Four hours of cycling a week, or roughly 10 km a day is a fitting level - luckily this is the average bike usage in Copenhagen - back and forth to work and running errands.

The study from Trafitec shows that 1 extra cycle kilometre produces, on average, 5 kroner [1 dollar] in health and production bonus for society.

Increased cycling levels in Copenhagen therefore has a great potential for improving our health levels.

Here are two scenarios that illustrate the positive connection between cycling, health and economy.

1. If Copenhageners rode 10% more kilometres each year:(the population is 1.7 million) -This would be an increase of 41 million extra cycling kilometres each year.
- The health system would save 59 million kroner per year. - We would save 155 million kroner in lost production manhours (due to illness)
- There would be 57,000 fewer sick days in the workplace each year. That would be a reduction of 3.3%.
- 61,000 extra life years
- 46,000 fewer years with lenghty illnesses.

2. One extra kilometre of bike lanes on a road:

Building bike lanes on streets with an average of 2,500 bikes and 10,000 cars each day would bring 18-20% more bikes on the stretch of road.

Including a drop of 9-10% in the number of cars and 9-10% fewer accidents and injury.

- A saving of 246,000 kroner in the health sector. - A saving of of 643,000 kroner in lost production. - A collective fall in health, production and accident costs each year totalling 633,000 kroner.- - The extra kilometre would give 170,000 more cycle kilometres each years.

All that from one extra kilometre of bike lane.

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