Promoting Cycling as Public Health Measure

An argument for better bike infrastructure from a healthcare perspective.

1 minute read

February 9, 2024, 8:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

People riding bikes on a paved bike trail.

Kara / Adobe Stock

An article by Adamo Anthony Donovan, Cole-Atma Dev, and Samuel Gagnon-Smith in Healthy Debate calls on health professionals to promote cycling as a way to improve public and environmental health. “Better bike infrastructure would increase physical activity levels; reduce carbon, air and noise pollution; and support Vision Zero initiatives that aim to prevent all serious injuries and road deaths, a top 10 cause of global mortality.”

According to the authors, “Health-care teams are well-positioned to educate the public about the positive externalities of cycling and can help dispel many of the misconceptions, based on societal norms and anecdotal lived experience, that discriminate against vulnerable road users.”

The article debunks popular misconceptions, including the belief that helmet laws improve safety, that ‘scofflaw cyclists’ put themselves in danger, and that people wouldn’t bike in adverse weather conditions. Statistics belie the falsity of these common beliefs. For example, “Far from cyclists being rule-breakers, cyclists respect traffic laws just as much if not more than drivers. In Québec, in collisions between drivers and pedestrians, the driver was distracted 68 per cent of the time while both parties were distracted 17 per cent of the time.”

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