Even though bicycle advocates have been saying this for decades, Danish researchers have just published a study on what happens if you take up cycling.
This research published in JAMA followed 7,500 adults who all had diabetes.
The average age of the study cohort was in their fifties, and this group bicycled at least one hour a week. Cycling has previously been considered a good therapy for those with hip and knee injuries, and less strenuous than running. A study undertaken in 2019 found that riding half an hour three times a week increased happiness as well as scores on cognitive tests.
With the 7,500 Danish study participants, biking indoors and outdoors resulted in a 24 percent overall lower mortality rate compared to those that did not bike or do other forms of physical fitness. Three five year periods were studied showing that people in the study had a 35 percent lower mortality rate compared to those that did not.
There are two outcomes of the study: structured exercise coupled with advice improved the health and physical outcomes of people with diabetes, but results also can be extrapolated to the general population without diabetes. The study confirms the outsized health benefits of cycling for everyone.
This of course also ties into the provision of places to bike, and the importance of safe and comfortable bike routes that can be easily used by bicyclists of all ages and abilities. The study provides the data for municipalities to not only consider separated bike lanes into the downtown, but for secure routes that can be used in neighbourhoods where walking and cycling are the priority.
That of course dovetails into the next steps for Vancouver’s designated Slow Streets which are going to be reviewed post pandemic to see if this initiative can be followed up and folded into existing programs such as future greenway, bikeway and traffic calming projects. This new data makes a comprehensive traffic calmed network of streets an imperative for the longevity and health of citizens, and also helps the City to meet sustainable goals by encouraging alternative ways to travel without a vehicle.