Reason for Support #26 : It’s your health

We’ve heard a lot of great stories from Arlingtonians who have dusted off their bikes and have realized the positive impact bicycling has had on their health. Here’s some info we found while researching the health benefits of bicycling, the impact bicycling can have on a community, and how it relates to Arlington’s Hike & Bike plan.

  • The plans will improve community members’ health by encouraging more walking and bicycling.
  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that improving places to promote more physical activity could result in a 25% increase in people who exercise at least 3 times a week.[1]
  • Childhood obesity is a problem in our country, and Arlington is no exception.  The Hike & Bike plan’s goal of getting involved with the national Safe Route to School program, which provides guidance on increasing walking and biking to and from school, would improve children’s health.
  • Numerous Cost-Benefit Studies show that walking and biking infrastructure improvements lead to improved health and reduced health care costs for people.  Here are just a few examples:

Lincoln, Nebraska. April 2005 journal, Health Promotion Practice[1], : Cost-Benefit ratios:  for every $1 invested in trails for physical activity,  people realized a $2.94 savings in their health care costs.

–Portland, Oregon.  a study in the January 2011 supplement of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health found positive benefit to cost ratios for bicycle improvements:  for every $1 invested in a basic bike plan, the community would realize a $3.80 savings in health costs and fuel costs. [2]

–a Norway study found an even higher benefit to cost ratio from hike and bike infrastructure:  for every $1 invested, people realized a $4 to $5 savings in reduced health care costs.[3]

–a UK study found that the average benefit to cost ratio for walking and cycling infrastructure in the U.K. and in other European countries was 13 to 1, and in the U.K. alone, it was 19 to 1!  That is for every $1 invested in biking and walking improvements, people in Europe saved $13 in health care costs, and people in the U.K. saved $19 in health care costs.[4]

[1] U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Guide to Community Preventive Services” (2002), cited in Hike and Bike Plan, Chapter 1, page 1-5.

[2] Wang, Guijing, et al.  “A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Physical Activity Using Bike/Pedestrian Trails,” Health Promotion Practice, April 2005, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 174-179.  “Costs and Benefits of Bicycling Investments in Portland Oregon,” by Thomas Gotschi, Journal of Physical Activity and Health, Volume 8, Supp. 1, (January 2011), pp. S49-S58: 

[3] Saelensminde, Kjartan.  “Cost-Benefit Analyses of Walking and Cycling Track Networks Taking Into Account Insecurity, Health Effects, and External Costs of Motorized Traffic,” Transportation Research Part A, Vol. 38, (2004) pp. 593-606.

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  1. 1 Arlington’s Hike & Bike Master Plan Built to Completion « Bike Friendly Arlington

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