Numerous studies have demonstrated that a cycling lifestyle has a positive impact on your health. Regular bicycle riding can improve muscular and skeletal health, help combat the physical side effects of stress and reduce the risk of heart disease.
San Diego and several other cities have encouraged bike riding as a way to reduce traffic and air pollution, promote fitness and discourage sedentary lifestyles. As these cities spend millions to introduce bike-sharing programs and invest in cycling-specific infrastructure, many skeptics still want to know: is cycling really worth the investment?
Health and Societal Benefits of Cycling
To find the answer, researchers developed several hypothetical cycling policies for Auckland, New Zealand, and calculated the estimated costs as well as the return on investment.
In 2011, Auckland, New Zealand contained about 1.4 million people, making it comparable to cities like San Diego, California and San Antonio, Texas. Using this environment as the basis for the study, researchers developed three policies to invest in bike friendly infrastructure:
Regional Cycling Network (RCN) – lanes that are clearly marked but offer no physical barrier separating cyclists from traffic on 46 percent of main roads, as well as a small number of shared bus and bicycle lanes.
Arterial Segregated Bike Lanes (ASBL) – one-way lanes with a physical barrier separating drivers from cyclists on all main roads.
Self-Explaining Roads (SER) – redesigning streets with structural changes and visual cues to slow traffic, and create more room for cyclists.
The regional cycling network offered the fewest benefits, increasing commuter cyclists from 1 percent to 5 percent by 2051, but not affecting car use (75 percent). The increased physical activity would save 450 lives.
The most effective strategy combined the ASBL and SER policies, which had the highest infrastructure costs but also the highest return on investment. The percentage of cyclist commuters would rise to 40 percent, while car use would drop to 40 percent. Most importantly, the increased activity would save the lives of 3,750 people by 2051.
In all scenarios, the health and societal benefits of cycling far outweighed the risks. The study proved that cities willing to invest in cycling-specific infrastructure are investing in a healthy future for their residents.
Attorney Frederick M. Dudek is a lawyer who firmly believes in the benefits of cycling because he rides. At Dudek Law Firm, we believe that every San Diego cyclist has the right to travel safely. If you were injured in a bicycle accident, call Dudek Law Firm to discuss your case. We know what causes most bicycle accidents, and we can help you hold reckless drivers responsible.
[Did You Know: Regular cycling exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 50 percent.]
Dudek Law Firm, APC—San Diego bicycle accident lawyer