New research from U. Wisconsin projects the benefits of active transport in terms of improvements in air quality and physical fitness
PROBLEM: Biking is a cost-effective, eco-friendly way to commute. But what are the health-related advantages of riding a bicycle to work instead of driving?
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METHODOLOGY: Researchers led by Maggie Grabow, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Nelson Institute, identified the air-pollution reductions that would result from eliminating short car trips in the 11 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the upper Midwest. They then computed for the savings associated with avoided mortality and reduced health care costs during the six months with optimum weather, when cycling is quite feasible in the region. The investigators, however, did not account for foregone auto trips due to walking or using mass transit.
RESULTS: Overall, the authors projected that encouraging the use of bikes in the Midwest for short-distance trips could save an estimated $7 billion, including 1,100 lives each year from improved air quality and increased physical fitness. The biggest savings of about $3.8 billion per year was due to prevented complications with conditions like obesity and heart disease.