Billions Saved if Just 50% of Short Trips Were Done by Bicycle

National Public Radio (NPR) reports, “Researchers at the University of Wisconsin were wondering if getting people out of their cars just a wee bit would create measurable improvements in health. So, they gathered up data sets on obesity, health effects of pollution and air pollution caused by automobiles in 11 Midwestern cities, and did a mashup.”

Dr. Jonathan A. Patz

Dr. Jonathan A. Patz

Some people might scoff at NPR’s reporting the obvious, but I personally try to implement what I call the “2-mile rule” each summer. Starting in the spring, I refuse to drive my car on any trips within a 2-mile radius. As summer advances, I find the radius expands in conjunction with my increasing capability. By the end of my best summer, it had grown to 20 miles. The rewards were much greater than just the savings in money not spent on gas. I started experiencing nature and my neighborhood in a more personal and intimate manner.

Dr. Jonathan A. Patz and his research team members found that if we Midwesterners could shift half of our short trips (less than 2.5 miles each way) from car to bike, 1,100 deaths would be avoided each year and $7 billion would be saved in reduced health-care costs. Their research was published recently in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Links:

Increased use of bikes for commuting offers economic, health benefits
by David Tenenbaum

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