- April 20 view article

Get on your bike! Eight statistics that show why you should cycle to work

Green means go: as the number of cyclists rises, so too does spending on infrastructure Credit: Alamy

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike,” said  John F. Kennedy – a man who knew his fair share about life's simple pleasures. But there's more to cycling than just the joys of a good ride, as these statistics prove ...

That's the conclusion of a major study, conducted by the University of Glasgow and published this week in the British Medical Journal.

The study's authors tracked the health of more than a quarter of a million people over five years and recorded 37 deaths among regular cyclists. In comparison, the researchers said that 63 would have died if they had all commuted by car or public transport.

They also noted that while walking to work offered a smaller benefit than cycling: commuting by foot lowered the risk of early death by 27pc. 

Not only does cycling help you avoid an early death, it also adds to your longevity. David Spiegelhalter, the Winton Professor of Risk at Cambridge University, has estimated that, on average, every hour we spend cycling adds an hour to our lives.

Hence why middle aged cyclists have a life expectancy that's two years above the norm.

Carbon footprints aren't the easiest things to calculate, so the exact figures here need to be taken with at least some degree of caution – but almost all studies agree that when you take into account manufacture, maintenance, and fuel, cycling is more eco friendly than other forms of transport.

A major 2013 study by the European Cyclists Federation estimated that a car belches out 271g of carbon dioxide per kilometre of travel, whereas a bike emits just 21g. 

Makes sense, doesn't it?

Some fairly involved number crunching by Cycle Scheme estimated the average annual cost of cycling to work is £396 – which compares favourably to commuting by train (£625) and private car (£3727).

It's known as the 'safety in numbers' hypothesis. Essentially, the more people who cycle, the safer they are.

A number of stats seem to bear this out. For example, in Copenhagen between 1995 and 2006, trips by bike increased by 44pc, yet the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured dropped by 60pc.

Closer to home, in England between 2000 and 2008, serious bicycle injuries declined by 12pc; the number of bicycle trips made in London doubled.

The theory behind this is that as more people take to the roads by bike, other road users adapt accordingly. Local and government bodies are also more likely to spend money improving cycling infrastructure if it caters for more people.

West Midlands Police release cycling near-misses compilation


Saving the economy £83m a year. And talking of saving ...

One recent study undertaken by Transport for London found that if Londoners capital cycled (or walked) for just 20 minutes a day, they would ease the burden on the NHS by £1.7 billion.

Researchers estimated that over a period of 25 years, there would be 85,000 fewer treatments for hip fractures in the capital alone.

A Harvard study found the positive correlation among men over the age of 50 who cycled for at least three hours a week.

What extra motivation could you need? - April 20 view article