Shared bicycle services: health and economic benefits

Shared mobility is fashionable throughout Europe. Carsharing and bike sharing services have been made with our cities, with the benefits they bring for pollution and traffic improvement. In the case of shared bicycle services, it seems that the benefits go further, improving our health, reducing the number of annual deaths and positively impacting the economy.

A recent study carried out in 12 European cities, with bike sharing systems in place, studied the consequences of this system on health, pollution and economy.

The study was carried out only in cities that had more than 2,000 shared bicycles, both normal bicycles and electric bicycles. Among the cities studied were Barcelona, Madrid, Seville and Valencia.

The researchers took into account the number of expected deaths – whether bike sharing systems increased or prevented such deaths – due to physical activity, traffic accidents and environmental pollution.

The shared bicycle system can provide both health and economic benefits.

The results they found suggested that the shared bicycle system may provide both health and economic benefits. According to the data from these researchers, bike sharing promotes physical exercise and decreases environmental pollution and traffic accidents. All these effects help to improve the overall health of the population. The consequence they found was that all these factors helped to decrease the number of annual deaths, which positively benefited the economy.

Throughout the study they warn that all this depends to a large extent on whether the use of shared bicycles is given in place of the use of the car. That is, if a person who would normally use the car to move around the city, leaves the car, and in return uses the bicycles. The greater the substitution of the car by shared bicycle journeys, the greater the impact.

In particular, they find that, in the cities studied, with the current level of substitution of car journeys by shared bicycle journeys, 5.17 deaths per year are avoided. This represents a saving of 18 million euros. They estimate that if all bike sharing trips were substituted for car trips, 73.25 deaths could be avoided in all 12 cities, with an annual saving of 225 million euros.

This could suggest that, if the shared bicycle system were implemented in other European – and world – cities, the number of deaths could be reduced, and economic savings increased.

In addition, investing in promoting the use of bike sharing among drivers, or users of other models of shared transport, could also have greater impacts on health and economy.

The use of bicycles has many benefits for our health and, now, moreover, we have every reason to leave the car and join the bike sharing.