Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Official: Cycling makes you 39% less likely to die

New research from the University of Sydney has indicated that more needs to be done to encourage safe cycling in Australia.

The results, published recently in the Medical Journal of Australia, show that despite the overwhelming health benefits associated with cycling, a dominant car culture and concerns about safety risks prevent many Australians from commuting by bicycle.

The findings come in response to a recent report into Victorian cycling injuries, which found that the number of cyclists treated for injuries has increased by 76 per cent over the past five years.

Conducted by Adrian Bauman and Chris Rissel of the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, the study compared Australian cycling conditions with overseas examples to highlight the many areas in which local cycling infrastructure needs updating.

Previous international studies have observed a 39 percent reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality over 15 years in those that cycled to work each day. Commuting by bicycle also has mental health benefits and reduces cardiovascular risk, with lower rates of obesity occurring in regions with high cycling rates.

While there are currently more people cycling in Australia than five years ago, with an estimated one million new bicycles sold each year, many avoid commuting by bike as a result of the perceived risks involved.

The study advocates better cycling facilities, the provision of separated bike paths and cycle lanes, lower driver speeds, and integrating cycling into public transport systems to encourage more Australians to access the health and ecological benefits of commuting by bicycle.

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