Research published in this week’s BMJ shows the health benefits that can result from city bicycle share schemes. The authors have assessed the likely health impact of the Barcelona bike sharing scheme, ‘Bicing’.
The Barcelona scheme had 181 982 users and the model suggested that this resulted in 12.46 deaths avoided per year as a result of physical activity while there was only a small increase of 0.03 deaths from road traffic incidents and 0.13 deaths from air pollution. Overall this shows a clear health benefit to cycling, with an estimated 12.28 deaths avoided annually.
Comparing this to the Boris bikes scheme, which has 134,738 members, suggests that there will be a similar health benefit as a result of this scheme. For many city workers, cycling to work is their only opportunity for exercise. Cycling to work and back every day will bring most people up to the recommended minimum exercise guidelines issued by the chief medical officer, which state that adults should do a minimum of 2 hours and 30 minutes exercise per week.
Continuing work to make London a more cycle-friendly city will reduce the risk due to accidents and air pollution and result in a healthier population, reduced carbon dioxide emissions and a more sustainable system of London transport.