MAKING THE MOVE to a cycling commute may be healthy, but it only makes sense if an individual can cycle in a safe environment a new study claims.
The behaviour of more than 50,000 commuters in Dublin (as documented by the Central Statistics Office) was consulted for the study, which involved researchers from Trinity College and has just been published in the Journal of Transport and Health.
The study found that generally speaking making the move to the bike has a positive effect on a person’s health – with a 10-20% reduction in conditions like heart disease, breast and colon cancer, dementia, diabetes and, interestingly, depression.
However, for men aged between 20 and 29, the risk of collision when switching from driving to cycling are heightened.
Already a demographic with a high risk of collision, that risk increases with every extra kilometre cycled according to the study – to such an extent that the net impact of taking the ‘healthy option’ is in fact a negative one, thus giving scientific credence to the thought that cycling in Dublin is both scary and hazardous.
“Individuals who cycle are also exposed to increased air pollution doses and an increased risk of traffic collision and injury,” said the study’s senior author, assistant professor of civil engineering at Trinity Bidisha Ghosh.
The results of this work show that cities promoting a shift from driving to cycling should focus on providing safer cycling infrastructure and cleaner air to keep cycling as the healthiest choice of city commute.
The study concludes that for cycling to work to be truly worthwhile in Dublin, the available infrastructure needs to be made safer.
In order to do so, it recommends certain infrastructural changes:
- Improved cycle lanes
- Traffic calming measures in residential areas
- Awareness of cyclists to be encouraged among drivers
The study, Health Impact of Cycling in Dublin on Individual Cyclists and on the Local Population, can be read in full here