New study examines health and environmental benefits of bike sharing
August 16, 2011
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A recent study of Barcelona’s bike sharing program, Bicing, found that the health benefits of using the system outweigh the risks by a ratio of 77 to one. The study also estimated that Bicing reduces carbon dioxide emissions by more than 9,000 metric tons every year. Previous studies have examined bicycling’s health and environmental benefits, but this is the first to conduct an in-depth health impact assessment related to a bike sharing program.
The health risks of using Bicing instead of driving come in the form of increased crashes (causing 0.03 deaths per year) and increased exposure to air pollution (causing 0.13 deaths per year). The health benefits come from increased physical activity (avoiding 12.46 deaths per year). When the risks are weighed against the benefits, the system still helps bike-sharing Barcelonians avoid 12.28 deaths annually.
The study also notes some interesting statistics on the use of Bicing. Within a year and half of the system’s launch, 11% of the Barcelona population had subscribed to it. More than two-thirds (68%) of Bicing trips are for the commute to work or school; and the average weekday Bicing trip is just over 2 miles (on weekends, 2.7 miles.)
Read the full study for free here.
Why this study is significant:
- Bike sharing programs are expanding to new cities every year; this report provides support for planned and existing programs.
- It adds to other studies that find the health benefits of bicycling far outweigh its risks.
- It looks at the health and environments of an existing system instead of a hypothetical scenario.