Cycling Benefits: Environmental
Cycling has a number of benefits to individuals and the wider community. Firstly, it’s an excellent form of physical activity, with significant health benefits. Secondly, by offering an alternative to motorised transport, it presents an effective method of reducing transport related greenhouse gas emissions. Thirdly, cycling is an economically efficient activity, as it lowers transport costs, through reduced fuel expenditure and individual contributions to congestion. Finally, cycling enhances the livability and social health of communities.
The need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has become an issue of primary concern in the community and amongst all levels of government. In Australia, transport accounts for over 1/3 of household greenhouse gas emissions. Cycling represents a zero emission form of transport and is therefore capable of providing significant environmental benefits. This is especially true for the 30 – 40% of trips in our cities covering less than 2km.
World Health: 5 Questions on How Transport is Related to Health
08th Apr 2013
TheCityFix interviewed EMBARQ Health and Road safety expert, Claudia Adriazola-Steil, for World Health Day 2013.
Q1. How can we tackle the problem of rising obesity and physical inactivity through transport?
Lack of physical activity contributes to 3.2 million deaths annually, yet just 150 minutes of physical activity per week – about 20 minutes per day – can improve health and reduce the risk of disease. A study by the New York City Department of Health showed that those who take mass transport, cycle and walk as their main form of transport, receive more physical activity than those who rely on cars.
Physical activity can be promoted in neighborhoods through access to mass transport, bike and pedestrian paths, safe streets, connectivity between different transport modes, and a compact mix of housing, retail, parks and offices. One study showed that Barcelona’s Bicing bike sharing system saved an estimated 12 lives per year, mostly by getting people out of their cars and active on the streets.
Replacing car trips by increasing bike and public transport in the greater Barcelona metropolitan area: A health impact assessment study (EU)
04th Dec 2012
This research published in the journal Environment International in November 2012, estimates the health risks and benefits of mode shifts from car to cycling and public transport in the metropolitan area of Barcelona, Spain. It found that around 66 lives would be saved if 40% of the trips now made by car were underatken by bicycle.
Moving urban trips from cars to bicycles: impact of health and emissions (New Zealand)
12th Oct 2012
This research, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health in 2011, estimates the effects on health, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions if short trips (≤7 km) were undertaken by bicycle rather than motor car. The authors concluded that the health benefits of moving from cars to bikes heavily outweigh the costs of injury from road crashes.
Review of public health and productivity benefits from different urban transport and related land use options (Australia)
12th Oct 2012
This paper was presented at The 5th Healthy Cities Conference held in Geelong, Australia in June 2012. It provides heath and economic rationale for developing urban forms geared towards active travel. This review is the first stage of a project supported by the CSIRO which examines developing potential human health impacts of future urban development scenarios.
Towards low carbon transport in Europe (EU)
21st Sep 2012
This paper, published in 2012 by the European Commission, links strategic targets in EU policy with research and innovation on decarbonising transport. The transport sector is a major contributor to CO2 emissions because of its dependency on fossil fuels. A profound contribution to CO2 emission reduction can be made by shifting passengers and freight to transport modes with low CO2 emissions.
Transport in a Low Carbon Economy (International)
24th Aug 2012
In 2011 AEA, a climate change consultancy, published a series of fact sheets synthesising the latest work and evidence from the major economic research institutions, multilateral institutions/organisations, and leading thinkers and consultancies working on low carbon development. The transport factsheet includes case studies of good practice and explores the envionmental social and economic co-benefits of encouraging low carbon transport.
Health Benefits of Emissions Reductions (Australia)
15th Aug 2012
In August 2012 the Climate and Health Alliance and Climate Institute released a briefing paper on the health benefits of climate action. This report draws together a large and growing body of evidence from health and medical research showing substantial health benefits linked to measures to cut emissions. It demonstrates that actions that cut greenhouse gas emissions can improve Australians’ health and could save billions of dollars for health care budgets and save thousands of lives each year.
Quantifying CO2 savings of cycling (EU)
13th Dec 2011
A December 2011 report by the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) quantifies the emissions savings of cycling compared with other modes of transport. It found emissions from cycling were over 10 times lower than those stemming from the passenger car. Comparing cars, buses, electric assisted bicycles and normal bicycles, ECF investigated how cycling could help the EU achieve its 2050 GHG reduction targets for Transport. According to the study, if EU citizens were to cycle as much as the Danes in 2000, (an average of 2.6km a day), it would help the EU meet more than a quarter of the targeted emission reductions for the transport sector.
Life Cycle Assessment of Transportation Options for Commuters (United States)
16th Aug 2011
This research paper by Shreya Dave, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was published in February 2010. It compares modes of transportation in terms of their environmental impact by conducting a complete life cycle assessment. According to this study, walking, conventional bicycling and electric bicycling release the same greenhouse gas emissions. All forms of personal transport are at least three times better than any other form of commuter transport.
Win-Win Transportation Emission Reduction Strategies (Canada)
17th Sep 2010
This paper, published by The Victoria Transport Policy Institute in 2011, introduces a range of market-based policy reforms aimed at increasing transport efficiency, improving health and reducing emissions.
Cycling and the Environment (Europe)
17th Sep 2010
This briefing, published by the European Network for Cycling Expertise in 2003, focuses on the environmental problems associated with motorised transport and identifies and discusses cycling’s role as an alternative, environmentally-benign mode of transport.
Active Transportation for America
17th Sep 2010
This 2008 report, produced by Bikes Belong and the Rail-to-Trails Conservancy, makes the case for increased federal investment in bicycling and walking in the United States.
Quantifying the benefits of non-motorized transportation (Canada)
17th Sep 2010
Produced by the Canadian Victoria Transport Policy Institute and authored by Todd Littman, this 2011 paper outlines the numerous benefits associated with active transport modes such as cycling. It discusses the methods available to quantify the social, economic, environmental and transport benefits of cycling.
Garnaut Climate Change Review (Australia)
17th Sep 2010
This site provides access to both the original 2008 Garnaut Climate Change Review and the 2011 updates.
The economic significance of cycling (International)
17th Sep 2010
This study published in the Netherlands in 2000 and authored by R Spreekmeester, R Wittink and J Van Den Berg assesses the various costs and benefits of cycling in various parts of the world. Their wide ranging analysis covers the costs of traffic and infrastructure, economic considerations and the health and environmental benefits of cycling, etc.