A British medical journal published a study that seemed to confirm what the most dedicated cyclists had long suspected : going on two wheels is really good for health.
Compared to driving or taking public transportation, cycling to work is associated with a substantially lower risk of heart disease and cancer (and even premature death from all those causes). The health benefits are even better than walking, according to the same research.
That does not mean that cycling does not come with risks. Without the protective steel cover of a car, cyclists are more vulnerable to being hit by distracted drivers or doored (a term when someone hits a bicycle when leaving a parked vehicle and, without noticing its presence , opens the door suddenly).
Although cycling is becoming an increasingly popular form of travel, the number of cyclists injured by accidents involving motor vehicles decreased by ten percent across the country between 2014 and 2015, according to the most recent data of the United States Department of Transportation. By 2015, 818 US cyclists were killed in motor vehicle accidents, accounting for 2 percent of all road traffic fatalities.
The worst cities are Albuquerque, with nine deaths per million inhabitants. Tucson, with 7.5 deaths. Las Vegas with six and Phoenix with five . In the District of Columbia, there were about 1.5 deaths of cyclists per million people, almost the same as in New York. That makes the capital of this country (where city officials have lobbied to improve infrastructure directed to cyclists) is one of the safest cities to go in this two-wheeled vehicle.
But what about the health effects of those cycling through the city streets full of gas inhaling a lot of polluted air from cars, buses and trucks?
A 2016 study published in Preventive Medicine suggests that in the most polluted areas of the world, cycling is much has an index more beneficial than the rate of injurious injuries and inhalations, which could damage the lungs and increase the risk of respiratory diseases and , even lung cancer.
In 2010, researchers found that injuries can subtract the average adult cyclist from five to nine days of life while the contamination can take away from one to forty days. However, the benefits of cycling can add from three to 14 months to the life of a regular cyclist.
” The benefits of performing this physical activity far outweigh the problems of air pollution and the risk of accidents, ” said Hanna Boogaard, an epidemiologist at the Institute of Health Effects, a non-profit organization that worked on the 2010 study. .
“However, as a cyclist, if you want to reduce exposure to air pollution and the risk of accidents, we recommend avoiding busy roads and taking the smaller and less traveled roads, even if that means prolonging travel time,” he said. that sense.
The fact that the cost-benefit analysis favors cycling makes good sense for Brian Flanagan, about 38 kilometers from his home in Haymarket, Virginia, and his office in Chantilly, Va., For about an hour and a half. He has noticed the effects not only on his physical well-being, but also on his mental and emotional state .
” I’m much more excited and prepared to start the day, instead of sitting in traffic for an hour, ” says Flanagan. “When I go home I usually go a little slower and more relaxed and I’m in a better mood to spend some time with my kids,” he says.
But you do not need to do 80 kilometers a day to realize the benefits of moving in these types of vehicles. You do not have to be rich either. You just have to change your routine (although it would also be good if you had a dressing room at work).
The proportion of Americans cycling to work quadrupled from 2000 to 2015, from about one percent to more than four percent, according to the latest census data.