Health Benefits of Bicycling Outweigh the Risks

According to a new study released by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the health benefits of switching from car driving to bicycling are substantially greater than the risks.

From the Abstract:

For the individuals who shift from car to bicycle, we estimated that beneficial effects of increased physical activity are substantially larger (3 — 14 months gained) than the potential mortality effect of increased inhaled air pollution doses (0.8 — 40 days lost) and the increase in traffic accidents (5 — 9 days lost). Societal benefits are even larger due to a modest reduction in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and traffic accidents.

Conclusions: On average, the estimated health benefits of cycling were substantially larger than the risks relative to car driving for individuals shifting mode of transport.

Of course, this is not really news for long time bicyclists, but it’s always good to have yet another confirmation from a reliable source.

View the paper

7 Responses to “Health Benefits of Bicycling Outweigh the Risks”

  • Eric says:

    Not to get all nit-picky, but this study is from the Netherlands, and the mortality rates used for both travel by bicycle and car are taken from “urban areas in the Netherlands.” I wonder how these numbers would change if we looked at mortality rates from the US.

    Eric in Denver

  • Alan says:

    You’re gettin’ all nit-picky, Eric… (just teasing).


  • » Accounting for the Economic Payoff of Streetcars and Buses says:

    […] St. Louis with an urban boulevard won’t cause the traffic disaster Missouri DOT says it will; EcoVelo reports on a new study confirming that the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks; and The […]

  • Jonathan Krall says:

    More proof that, unlike driving a car or sitting at home on a couch, riding _lengthens_ your life span. Riding is safer than driving. It’s also safer than doing nothing at all. Thanks for the post. :)

  • RI SWamp Yankee says:

    One thing to note is that a more active lifestyle does not mean you’ll loose much (if any) weight. A lot of us took up cycling to trim down, and surprise! Recent studies have shown that exercise doesn’t cause you to lose weight – only a restrictive diet will do that. This has been my experience.

    What the daily commute’s done for me is slow or stop the year-on-year weight gain (and I’ve stopped dieting completely – when you break your diet, and chances are you will, you’ll yo-yo back to being even heavier than when you started. I’m trying to eat better rather than less, now. Too soon to tell if this will work.)

    More importantly, it’s helped general fitness and health – it reduces the impact of depression and joint pain, improves blood pressure and heart health, increases your stamina and strength and helps you to sleep better, to boot. That’s worth it, even if it hasn’t helped in my quest to look good in black leather jeans.

  • Ray says:

    I agree with RI SWamp Yankee–I’ve heard that losing weight is based on 70% food and 30% exercise. Essentially saying that what you eat will influence how well and how much you exercise. But I do believe that bicycling is a great form of exercise and definitely a great way to help the environment by taking another car off the road. The health benefits from car driving to bicycling are greater than the risks, but there will always be a chance for risks, so bicyclist should ensure that their bike is safe and they are prepared. And to help out with that, $20 each month from commuter benefits is a good start towards biking accessories and repairs. So glad my friends pointed this out to me! Check out how to receive this convenient benefit at

  • Stuart says:

    “Recent studies have shown that exercise doesn’t cause you to lose weight – only a restrictive diet will do that. This has been my experience.”

    If you burn more calories while exercising than you eat during the day, you will lose weight.

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