2011 - Research

The Health Risks and Benefits of Cycling in Urban Environments Compared with Car Use: Health Impact Assessment Study

The purpose of this study is to estimate the risks and benefits to health of travel by bicycle, using a bicycle sharing scheme, compared with travel by car in an urban environment.

  • This is a study of a public bicycle sharing initiative (Bicing) in Barcelona, Spain with 181,982 Bicing subscribers.
  • The primary outcome measure was all cause mortality for the three domains of physical activity, air pollution (exposure to particulate matter <2.5 µm), and road traffic incidents. The secondary outcome was change in levels of carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Compared with car users the estimated annual change in mortality of the Barcelona residents using Bicing (n=181 982) was 0.03 deaths from road traffic incidents and 0.13 deaths from air pollution. As a result of physical activity, 12.46 deaths were avoided (benefit:risk ratio 77). The annual number of deaths avoided was 12.28. As a result of journeys by Bicing, annual carbon dioxide emissions were reduced by an estimated 9 062 344 kg.
  • Public bicycle sharing initiatives such as Bicing in Barcelona have greater benefits than risks to health and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Rojas-Rueda, D., A. de Nazelle, et al. (2011). "The Health Risks and Benefits of Cycling in Urban Environments Compared with Car Use: Health Impact Assessment Study." BMJ 343.