Study: More Bike Infrastructure Could Prevent 15,000 Deaths Annually

In addition to reducing air pollution and congestion, improving bike infrastructure could save thousands of lives each year, according to new research.

1 minute read

December 8, 2021, 5:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Biking in Denver

Arina P Habich / Shutterstock

A new study that models the "comprehensive global public health impacts of the mode shift to cycling" found that replacing car trips with bike trips can prevent over 15,000 deaths per year in the U.S. alone, reports Kea Wilson for Streetsblog.

The study analyzed rates of premature deaths due to car crashes and pollution-related disease, as well as how many car trips could be replaced with robust investment in bike infrastructure and other incentives.

Even if just 8 percent of those new bike trips replaced journeys in a car — an extraordinarily conservative estimate, considering that in this hypothetical world, every urban area in the world would be outfitted with Amsterdam-levels of bike lanes — researchers say that 18,589 lives could be saved across the globe, 1,227 of which would be in the U.S. alone.

Meanwhile, even people not using bikes would benefit from improved air quality, reduced congestion, and better overall mobility. "In addition to the impacts modeled in his study, [study author David] Rojas points out that bikeable communities typically have more green space, more real estate to devote to affordable housing, healthy food providers, and other essential services in every neighborhood, and lower levels of noise pollution, all of which have an impact on the physical and mental health of their residents."

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