Cycling is not only more sustainable for the city and the environment, but it is also healthier. Those who commute to work by bike or on foot and, to a lesser extent, those who do so by public transport, have a lower risk of premature death and suffering from various diseases than those who use the car. This is demonstrated by a study that analyzes the health of 300,000 people in the United Kingdom (in England and Wales) over 25 years.

“The main conclusion of our work is that active modes of transport, which include cycling, walking and moving by train, have long-term health benefits compared to people traveling by car,” Richard explained by email. Patterson, from the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Cambridge and director of the study.

The research, published this Thursday in The Lancet Planetary Health magazine and carried out together with Imperial College London, uses the census data from England and Wales and follows the same group of citizens between 1991 and 2016, all over the age of 16 and active workers. Of these, 66% drive to get to work, 19% do so by public transport, 12% walk, and only 3% ride a bike. Men tend to go more by car and bike, while women use public transport more and walk.

The analysis concludes that pedaling to work reduces the rate of premature death compared to drivers by 20%, the rate of cardiovascular diseases by 24% (which include heart attacks and strokes), and even reduces the prevalence of driving by 11%. Cancer. Walking to work also reduces these variables to different degrees.

For their part, those who travel by public transport —and must walk to the stations— reduce the rate of premature death by 10%, mortality from cardiovascular diseases by 20% and the diagnosis of cancer by 12%. The researchers believe that in this case the reduction may be due to the fact that people who move by train tend to have a higher purchasing power – given the high price of public transport – and are less likely to have other problems.

“The study does not attempt to investigate the mechanisms behind the associations we found, because we do not have data to know how factors such as physical activity, air pollution and stress influence,” says Patterson. “However, the most likely explanation is that walking and cycling involve physical activity, which is strongly associated with improved health, resulting in lower mortality and fewer cardiovascular diseases,” says Patterson. .

In his opinion, the work “adds to the long list of evidence demonstrated over the years that shows that private cars must be reduced in the future to achieve healthier and more environmentally friendly cities.”

With the de-escalation of confinement after the coronavirus, many cities are taking initiatives to change their mobility and prevent cars from reigning in them: temporary bike lanes, widening of sidewalks, areas without cars … In this context, blog I love bicis returns as a space to host initiatives related to bicycles and sustainable mobility.