The Dangers of NOT Cycling

A Healthy Alternative

Given the general perception that cycling is dangerous, we may take comfort in the fact that bike commuting is actually very good for your health.

According to a 1996 study funded by the Australian Department of Transport, regular cycling reduces over four times as many heart attack fatalities as it increases in collision fatalities¹. By choosing not to ride to work, you’re substantially increasing your probability of dying prematurely, even when weighed against the risks associated with cycling in traffic.

A similar 2000 study, funded by the Danish Medical Research Council and the Danish Heart Foundation, found the dangers of cycling are far outweighed by the health benefits derived from the daily, moderate exercise that is typically associated with bike commuting. From the study: “Even after adjustment for other risk factors, including leisure time physical activity, those who did not cycle to work experienced a 39% higher mortality rate than those who did.”

Clearly, even when weighed against the increased risks associated with cycling in traffic, bike commuting is very good for your health and longevity. And when considered along with its other significant benefits such as reduced costs, reduced pollution, and reduced traffic congestion, travelling by bike makes a tremendous amount of sense.

Roberts, Owen, Lumb, MacDougall, 1996: Pedalling Health, p.64, Table 2

7 Responses to “The Dangers of NOT Cycling”

  • MikeOnBike says:

    One more reference:

    “the health benefits exceed the risks by a factor of 20. The health benefits of cycling are so great—and the health injuries from driving so great—that not cycling is really dangerous.”

    But “Recent safety campaigns have destroyed faith in the bicycle as a safe means of transport, reducing participation, compromising public health, increasing the risks, and decreasing road skills”

    “The inherent risks of road cycling are trivial.”

    “Experienced cyclists, like experienced drivers, have far better accident rates”

    “There are not enough skillful, experienced cyclists”

  • Jim Reilly says:

    Over the years I have had many tell me I was crazy for commuting on the road… “It’s too dangerous.” So I guess I should drive to and from work. This will give me more time to be “safe” at home on the coach watching TV!

  • MikeOnBike says:

    Here’s one of the most comprehensive answers to the notion that cycling is dangerous:

    The most concise reply might be “Compared to what?”

    Tragically, Ken was killed by a drunk driver traveling in the opposite direction.

  • Alan says:

    Thanks Mike. Ken is one of my all-time heroes. The fact that he was killed by a drunk driver is something I’ll never quite get my head around.


  • Ian says:

    I too, still have not got over the tragic death of Ken Kifer at the hands of a drunk driver. He was the earliest bicycling authors on the net and I have spent countless hours reading, enjoying and digesting his wisdom re biking plus I found him to have a wider range of interests in ecology and simplicity. Like you, Alan, I still can not get my head around the loss and the sense of futility in all of it. But, I have been blessed and helped in all of this by finding you, first on your Recumbent Blog and now on EcoVelo. I suspect that Ken has had an infIuence on your writing style too. I must admit I was terribly disappointed at first by your decision to move on, but am so glad I hung in with you. I think you are doing a better thing by being ‘Inclusive’ rather than perpetuating the exclusiveness of one kind of biking over the other. Keep up the good work, and please watch out for yourself. Remember, drivers don’t mean to ‘not see you’, but with cell phones, annoying drivers, gas prices, foreclosures, stress at home and work………. a bicyclist becomes invisible to them no matter how well lit up he/she is.

  • Alan says:

    Hi Ian,

    Thanks very much for the kind words and encouragement.

    Regarding “inclusiveness”, take a look at tomorrow’s post (it’ll be posted in the morning); we must be on the same wavelength!

    You too stay safe out there.


  • meli says:

    those panniers look pretty sweet on that ride.

    xo. meli

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