Place: Israels Plads, Copenhagen – photo by Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Every year the Greater Copenhagen Region saves billions because the inhabitants love their bikes. Together they bike nearly 1,5 million kilometres every day, and in the Copenhagen central city more than 40 percent of commuting to work and school is done by bike.
This adds up to great advantages for all inhabitants and especially those who bike: Research shows that for every 1,200 kilometres they bike, they are spared one day of illness on average, because it helps against all those diseases associated with physical inactivity. Biking gets us fit, it strengthens our muscles, our cardiovascular health, and our mental health, and studies have shown that physical activity increases cognitive abilities such as being able to concentrate and learn. This is an advantage for school children as well as adults and for society at large.
The Greater Copenhagen Region estimates that the bike happy inhabitants of the region are spared 1,1 million sick days every year, and that adds up to a value of more than 250 million US$, measured as saved medical bills and increased productivity.
Biking also means less pollution from both airborne particles and noise. Both air pollution and noise pollution are killers, increasing the risk of deadly diseases, especially in heart and lungs.
And biking is a climate friendly solution, emitting no CO2, it is cheap and efficient, making it ideal transportation for those that are less wealthy.
Bikes take up less space on the roads, leading to less congestion, which against means less time in queues and traffic jams. This also has a value, which the Greater Copenhagen Region estimates at 200 million US$ per year.
Copenhagen and other Danish cities are constantly working to improve biking conditions to get even more people biking. Safety is a very important issue, and dedicated bike lanes are standard throughout the city. Bike paths frequently are cleared of snow and ice before the rest of the roads, and bikers often get a green light before the cars so they can move faster.
The result? The Copenhageners love their bikes. In Central Copenhagen alone it is estimated that the inhabitans own 678,000 bikes. That is nearly seven bikes for every car.
Source: The Capital Region of Denmark