The Public Health Benefits of Bike Share, Quantified

New research shows that bike share use has a positive impact on public health, even in less bikeable cities.

August 2, 2021, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Capitol Hill

Andriy Blokhin / Shutterstock

According to a new study from Colorado University–likely "the first study to quantify the public health benefits of U.S. bicycle sharing systems"–bike share systems "saved the national healthcare system more than $36 million, despite the fact that there are only about 100,000 shared bikes in the country and many are located in dangerous, car-dependent cities." Bike share users, writes Kea Wilson, "were saved a collective total of 737 'disability adjusted life years,' or years spent living with debilitating health conditions such as cancer, dementia, and ischemic heart disease, thanks to the preventative power of active transportation."

But "the life-saving potential of bike share is limited by the deadly reality of car dominance. The researchers found bike share users had a marginally higher risk of dying in traffic crashes or from pollution-related ailments compared to drivers or transit riders, although they also had a much lower risk of dying from diseases related to physical inactivity than their inactive counterparts." However, no U.S. bike share users were killed between 2007 and 2014, making it a remarkably safe travel mode. David Rojas-Rueda, one of the study's authors, says "the remaining risks of bike share can be mitigated through good Vision Zero planning. But the public health risks associated with sedentary modes such as driving are baked in."

Friday, July 23, 2021 in Streetsblog USA

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