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The risks and benefits of cycling, a very comprehensive study conducted in Paris

(26/06/2013)

To swap your car for a bicycle for journeys of less than 5 km is not merely an anodyne gesture. It is a healthy move both individually and collectively. In a nutshell, this is the conclusion of a study entitled "The risks and benefits of cycling in the Île-de-France", published by the Regional Health Observatory in the Île-de-France in September 2012. It focuses on a variety of scenarios, comparing the risk/benefit ratio of each mode of transport - car, bicycle, public transport, between now and 2020.

Realistic scenarios

This study considered various scenarios showing the change inrisk/benefit ratio of a given variable percentage of car drivers or public transport users who adopted the bicycle as their daily mode of transport. Each scenario considers the percentage of bicycle users now and in 2020 and doubles and quadruples it.

Conclusion: although the number of bicycles increases at the cost of other means of transport, in particular the car, the number of accidents where a bicycle is hit by a car falls. This increase in the number of cyclists would also bring other environmental benefits: less pollution, less noise, traffic routes less congested.

The benefits of cycling?

The Government and the Île-de-France region are committed to encouraging cycling by a variety of different actions: open access bicycle schemes, bicycle plans, corporate or governmental travel plans, national nutrition and health plan, national environmental health plan.

The reason is simple - cycling as an everyday mode of transport is beneficial in more ways than one. On an individual basis, it is healthy and slows the appearance of chronic illnesses such as certain cancers, cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis, inter alia. Cycling, if not daily, then on a regular basis would also be good from a psychological perspective. Collectively, a higher proportion of bicycles compared with cars would result in a fall in atmospheric pollution and noise, not to mention accidents caused by cars and consequently greenhouse gas emissions.

What solutions would reduce accidents?

All the scenarios showed that accidents, some of which will be fatal, will continue, even if a large proportion of car drivers take to cycling. In Paris, the mortality rate is lower than in the suburbs and the towns immediately surrounding Paris. However the opposite is true in the city itself, where cycling deaths are more common. There are solutions which will reduce the risks. When cycling, therefore, you should consider changing your route to use the less congested streets, not only to avoid an accident, but also pollution and noise.

To find out more

Read the complete study