Riding a bicycle could save Sydney commuters from a raft of chronic diseases, from obesity to heart disease, Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP said during Heart Week (2-8 May).
"Cycling has substantial health benefits and is often a faster mode of transport in the inner city compared with cars or public transport," Ms Moore said.
"Report after report has found people who ride bicycles regularly are generally healthier, happier and fitter than those that don't. As we mark Heart Week, I'm encouraging Sydneysiders to think with their heart and get on a bike!"
Australian and international studies show regular bicycle riding reduces the chance of dying early from chronic diseases such as heart disease, obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.
Tony Thirlwell, Heart Foundation CEO - NSW said: "If we want to get Sydneysiders moving, governments have to support and facilitate activities like cycling and walking."
"The cycling network being developed in Sydney is a great example of councils working together to increase activity levels and improve heart health," he added.
A recent ABS report found that cardiovascular disease remains Australia's leading killer, responsible for 48,546 deaths in 2008, up from 46,821 in 2007 and 45,670 in 2006. This represents 33.7% of all deaths in 2008.
"It is clear that the more people use bicycles as a mode of transport the healthier and happier thousands of people are going to be. The health benefit is just one more reason to support Sydney's cycling enthusiasm and invest in cycleways," Ms Moore said.
The City of Sydney is building a 200km, $76M cycling network and has teamed up with 14 other inner city councils to build an inner city wide network to support the increasing demand for cycling.
A 2009 City of Sydney survey found that 83% of bicycle riders cited health and fitness as the main benefit of cycling on a regular basis.