Researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison have confirmed: Bicycling is good for your health. That’s not exactly new. The most interesting aspect of the study is that they were able to quantify the benefits.
The researchers found that 20% of car trips within that region were for distances of 5 miles or less. If even just half of these short trips were made by bike instead of car, the impact would still be a $3.8 billion in savings, and 400 fewer deaths each year.
Bigger picture, if half of all of the trips were taken by bicycle, health costs would drop by a dramatic $7 billion – or, $225 per American – and 1100 fewer deaths each year.
(For context on costs, Type 2 diabetes costs an average of $6,600 annually, per sufferer. The health care cost of obesity is estimated at $147 billion annually, and cardiovascular disease is about $444 billion annually – both of which are much higher than other, more active Western countries.)
But not everyone can just jump on a bike and get active.
“Part of this is a call for making our biking infrastructure safer,” adds Dr. Jonathan Patz, researcher on the study and director of the Global Health Institute. “If there are so many health benefits out there, we ought to try to redesign our cities to achieve them.”
Owner, Bicycle Habitat