Replacing cars with bikes in the city could save over 200,000 lives each year, study suggests

Many lives could be saved if, in the future, everyone rode a bicycle in the city. — ETX Studio pic
Many lives could be saved if, in the future, everyone rode a bicycle in the city. — ETX Studio pic

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PARIS, Dec 7 — Using bicycles on a near-systematic basis in cities could have an incredible impact on people’s health, both in terms of exposure to pollution and road accidents.

Research suggests that as many as 205,000 premature deaths could be avoided each year worldwide if policies encouraging people to use a bicycle instead of a car were put in place.

The research was conducted by David Rojas-Rueda of Colorado State University in collaboration with scientists from the Institute for Global Health in Barcelona. It was published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

The study is based on a promotion of urban cycling, supposing a scenario in which by 2050, all car travel is replaced by cycling.

In this case, if cycling were to replace cars entirely in urban settings, more than 205,000 premature deaths could be avoided annually.

In a more “realistic” scenario, where only 8 per cent of car trips are replaced by bicycle trips, this statistic would drop to 18,589 annual deaths prevented. These deaths would generally be related to pollution and road accidents.

This study shows that certain policies that promote cycling in cities could have very significant health benefits.

The optimal scenario, saving as many lives as possible, envisages, by 2050, various measures such as the development of cycling infrastructure on major roads and thoroughfares, but also on small residential streets and interurban roads, or the implementation of a vast bike-sharing offer.

It also includes the introduction of various taxes to systematically charge for car use and, logically, the removal of free parking or fuel subsidies.

The study covers urban populations aged 20-64 in 17 countries (Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States). — ETX Studio

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