People Located Near Bike Lanes and Walking Paths Exercise More (A Lot More)

Livability-Fact-Sheet-Bicycling-Photo
A bicyclist in Missoula, Mont. (as pictured in the "AARP Livability Fact Sheet: Bicycling").

Not exercising isn't completely your fault.

A study conducted in the United Kingdom by the University of Cambridge MRC Epidemiology Unit (and published in July by the American Journal of Public Health) finds that people who live near bike lanes and walking paths are likely to exercise at least 40 minutes more a week than people who don't have easy access to such traffic-free routes.

In fact, for every 0.6 miles a person resides near a dedicated walking path or bike lane, he or she will exercise about 15 minutes more a week.

"We hope that communities will progressively realize the substantial health and environmental benefits of making walking and cycling a convenient, safe and attractive everyday activity," says Anna Goodman, the study's lead author and an epidemiologist with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Similar results were found in a Harvard School of Public Health study conducted in very bike-friendly Hangzhou, China. The Harvard research (published in the June issue of the Journal of Transport and Health) found that the largely well-to-do residents of the city who had access to designated bike lanes were more likely to participate in active transportation to get around the city, even if they owned a car. Another finding: The people who bicycle in Hangzhou have significantly lower obesity rates than their neighbors who rely primarily on cars.

"We see the bicycle as a vital tool for the control of obesity worldwide," says Steve Bercu, a director of the Helen and William Mazer Foundation, which funds research on the public health benefits of bicycling and helped fund the study.  "The Hangzhou study begins to paint a picture of the elements that can lead to the choice of a bicycle over a car for daily transportation, elements such as wide cycle track and the use of lushly vegetated islands to buffer bikes from traffic."

While the research proves the benefits of having bicycle infrastructure, Anne Lusk, a research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health, worries that the widespread creation of effective bike lanes will be a slow ride. "Technologies are advancing at lightning speed while transportation infrastructure has evolved at the speed of a slow horse," she says.

See the Livability Fact Sheet: Bicycling and the Livability Fact Sheet Series by AARP Livable Communities and Walkable and Livable Communities Institute to the learn more about incorporating bicycling and walking into a community's infrastructure and daily life.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Shyidah Sala'huddin is an intern on the AARP Livable Communities team.

Shydiah Sala'Huddin

     Learn more about making communities great for people of all ages by visiting           AARP.org/livable and subscribing to the AARP e-Newsletter.

Search AARP Blogs

Related Posts
February 14, 2019 05:41 PM
Webinar Date: February 13, 2019
February 12, 2019 06:09 AM
The idea of a group of people traveling together from Point A to Point B as a way to make transportation more efficient and more affordable isn’t exactly new. At LA Metro, we’ve been doing that with buses and trains for over 60 years. But in the age of ride-hailing (e.g., Uber and Lyft), the transportation landscape has dramatically changed, and today there are many more options to consider than there were in the 1950s. The concept of Mobility as a Service (MaaS)—which, as its name suggests, is centered on users tapping multiple transportation options as a service rather than depending entirely on vehicle ownership—is more relevant than ever. Public transit fits perfectly into this new and still-emerging landscape, and LA Metro has responded accordingly.
January 28, 2019 06:06 PM
At the United States Conference of Mayors winter meeting on January 24, a panel of mayors discussed the important role that voters age 50 or older play in local elections and how communities can best engage older adults.