Fewer people driving to work improves air quality. It also means better health for people who decide to change their habits and start cycling to work.
Researchers from Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge examined data from over 300,000 commuters in England and Wales. Researchers tracked participant activity over 25 years, from 1991 to 2016. The positive health benefits of cycling and walking, have been thoroughly studied, this new research is significant because it followed up a large number of people for a long time.
People who frequently cycled to work, compared with those who traveled by car, had the following benefits:
- 24 % lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke
- 20 % reduced rate of premature death
- 11 % lower chance of a cancer diagnosis
- 16 % reduced rate of death from cancer
According to this study, people who walked to work were 7 % less likely to be diagnosed with cancer, compared to people who drive.
Researchers suggest the reason for that might be that, on average, people who walk to work have a lower income, and it affects their health.
The analysis showed that, compared to people who drove to work, even rail commuters had:
- 20 % lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- 10 % lower risk of early death
- 12 % lower rate of cancer diagnosis
Perhaps they were walking or cycling, so they could catch their trains.
Additionally, after assessing more data research team reported that:
- 66 % of people regularly drive to work
- 19 % use public transport
- 12 % walk
- 3 % use bicycles
”As large numbers of people begin to return to work as the COVID-19 lockdown eases, it is a good time for everyone to rethink their transport choices. With severe and prolonged limits in public transport capacity likely, switching to private car use would be disastrous for our health and the environment. Encouraging more people to walk and cycle will help limit the longer-term consequences of the pandemic,” conclude researchers.