Investing in bike lanes will pay huge dividends down the road

Two articles caught my eye this morning. One, regarding a massive new study that points to what bike commuters have known all along. Namely, that commuting the two-wheeled way offers profound health benefits.

The British study, found here, basically follows a large control group of 263,450 (average age 53) with varying degrees of cycling from a total two-wheeled commuter, to a mix of bike, walk, and non-active, to no activity at all. The surprise isn’t that the cyclist saw health benefits thanks to the daily exercise times two, but the extent of those benefits.

Highlights of the findings include a 41 per cent lower risk of dying, and a 52 per cent lower risk of dying from heart disease.  Those are huge numbers. And they should come attached to a dollar figures saved by the health care system with an increase in the overall health of the population. But it doesn’t.

It should also be noted that Britain has one of the lowest rates of cycle commuting in Europe at a measly three per cent. So there is much room for improvement, as well as savings in health care tax dollars.

The other article highlighted the lack of bicycle lane infrastructure in the city of Toronto. Despite having a 10-year plan, cyclists in the city are complaining about the very snail-like pace of change. Adding sustainable fuel to the fire might be the memory of the last 10-year cycling plan, equally ambitious, that was abandoned.

It’s the age-old problem that comes with electoral politics. This change we are talking about is the right one by all accounts. Want to fight climate change? Get more people on bikes. Want a healthier population to cut down on health care costs? Get more people on bikes. Want to take a bite out of traffic congestion? smog? You name it.

But not everyone is quick to adapt. People dislike change and love their cars. So, we need to shoehorn them out of their SUVs. They won’t go easily and rebellion might come on election day. As a result, politicians aren’t so quick with the change despite overwhelming evidence of the benefits.

So we wait. Issues will continue to mount. Solutions will become harder and harder to ignore until that tipping point is finally reached and the change truly begins in earnest. Here’s hoping it isn’t too late.








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