Increase in life expectancy much greater than impact of air pollution and RTAs

A study by academics at the University of Utrecht in The Netherlands has found that the health and other benefits associated with cycling outweigh the potential risks such as being involved in a road traffic accident or exposure to air pollution.

Researchers, whose findings are to be published in the academic journal Environmental Health Perspectives, analysed literature regarding air pollution, road traffic accidents and physical activity, and sought to assess the impact on mortality from all causes of 500,000 people taking up cycling instead of driving for short trips on a daily basis in The Netherlands.

They found that where people had changed their mode of transport from cars to bikes, there were “substantially larger” beneficial effects, with a gain in life expectancy of 3-14 months set against 0.8 – 40 days lost due to air pollution, and 5-9 days lost as a result of road traffic pollution, leading them to conclude that “on average, the estimated health benefits of cycling were substantially larger than the risks relative to car driving for individuals shifting mode of transport.”

They added that benefits to society would be “even larger due to a modest reduction in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and traffic accidents.”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.


Kim [250 posts] 7 years ago

There have been a number of other studies with similar findings, when will our policy makers finally get the message?  2

JJ the Flying D... [64 posts] 7 years ago

Unfortunately the Netherlands are light years ahead with bike infrastructure, which without a doubt has got an influence on the amount of road traffic accidents. I'm not sure if the same study in the UK would have the same outcome... You only have to compare London with Amsterdam from a cyclist point of view. Like Kim says, hopefully people in the government realise the change has to start somewhere!