Article

Cycling and health promotion - A safer, slower urban road environment is the key

BMJ
BMJ Clinical Research (Impact Factor: 14.09). 05/2000; 320(7239):888. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.320.7239.888
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

The consensus that regular physical exercise is a vital part of maintaining health and wellbeing has existed for at least a decade.1 The human body is made to exercise, yet our increasingly motorised existence means that we now walk an average of eight miles less each day than our forebears 50 years ago.2 Cycling has shown a similar decline: in 1949 34% of miles travelled using a mechanical mode were by bicycle; today only 1-2% are.2The car, weighing the best part of a ton and often conveying only one person and a briefcase, is a highly inefficient mode of transport. The fumes cars expel cause appreciable mortality3 and are a major contributor to …

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    • "Research by Hunt and Abraham (2007) found that time spent cycling in mixed traffic is more onerous than time spent cycling on bike lanes or bike paths, as seen by bicycle users. It has been suggested by researchers that the most prominent barrier to cycling is the perception of safety (Lingwood, 2004, Carnall, 2000). "
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    ABSTRACT: This research reports on the commuting behavior and perceptions of the road environment of Beijing bicycle and non-bicycle commuters (n=852), in relation to the environmental conditions in three local areas. The binary logistic regression model tested the impact of 4 social and 22 environmental factors on perceptions of the bicycle commute and provides new insights on the association between perception of the cycling environment and the likelihood of commuting by bicycle. Differences in perception of the road environment between the two groups were slight. Gender and education were unrelated to the cycling decision, while age and income were shown to be marginally significant. The role of commuting distance on bicycle mode choice was upheld, however the rapid decline in bicycle mode share in Beijing can be explained only partially by increasing commuting distance. Traffic safety and air quality are common major concerns of all commuters. The negative perception that bicycle lanes have gradually been taken over by motorized vehicles is one key reason that deters motorized commuters from bicycling. Air pollution, traffic safety, the lack of road space, climatic disadvantages, insufficient secure parking for bicycles and inadequate night lighting are seen as major barriers by all commuters. There were significant differences in the bicycle mode share among the three communities that could not be attributed to socio-demographic differences, but are suggestive of the importance of environmental factors. Relatively short commuting distance for many commuters–47.9% of residents and 32.5% of motorized commuters travel less than 5 km–suggests the substantial potential for bicycle commuting for a large proportion of the working population. Finally, bicyclists and non-bicyclists can hardly be differentiated in this study in Beijing, suggesting that many non-bicyclists are potential candidates for the non-motorized mode.
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    ABSTRACT: This paper begins by looking at the impact of transport on health - specifically, accidents, physical activity and social interaction/quality of life - and considers what part speed plays. It also considers the implications for health inequalities. It then looks at the evidence of effectiveness of interventions. Finally, it highlights some common elements of approaches that have made progress in tackling the health impacts of transport and speed. The appendix outlines work by the HDA and others on transport and health. 1 Key points • Road traffic speed has a direct impact on health: it is a major cause of crashes, and the seriousness of accidents is related to speed. • Speed has important indirect impacts on health: Perception of road danger discourages walking and cycling, two of the most important kinds of physical activity. This perception restricts social interactions (for example, by cutting people off from everyday facilities), affects the quality of life, and can induce feelings of stress, particularly among older people.
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