OP IX – 2 Health impacts of bike sharing systems in europe

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Abstract

Background/aim

Bike sharing systems (BSS) has been implemented in several cities around the world as policies to mitigate climate change, promote physical activity, and improve public health.

Background/aim

This study aims to assess the health impacts (risk and benefits) of major BSS (with more than 2000 bikes) in Europe, with mechanical and electric bikes (e-bikes).

Methods

We used a health impact assessment (HIA) approach to quantify the health risk and benefits of car trips substitution by bikes trips from European BSS. The estimated health outcome was the annual expected number of deaths (increased or avoided) due to physical activity, road traffic fatalities and air pollution (particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometres (PM2.5)) due to car trips substitution for BSS trips. The analysis was focused on BSS with more than 2000 bikes (with the mechanic and/or electric bikes (e-bikes)) in European cities. Four scenarios were created to assess the health impacts of shifting from car to BSS bike. An economic assessment included estimating the health cost related to each death.

Results

Twelve BSS were included in the analysis, nine BSS with mechanic bikes (Brussels, Hamburg, Lille, Lyon, Paris, Seville, Toulouse, Valencia, Warsaw), two with mechanical and e-bikes (Barcelona and Milan) and one BSS with only e-bikes (Madrid). In all the cases (BSS and scenarios) were estimated that the car trips substitution by BSS trips results in health benefits. Also in all the cases, the health benefits of physical activity outweighed the health risk of traffic fatalities and inhalation of air pollution. The number of annual deaths avoided ranged from 5.17 (95% CI: 7.01 to 3.11) with an economical value of €13 million (minimum shift between car-bike) to −73.250 (95% CI: −99.805 to −44.144) with an economical value of €189 million (100% bike trips shifted from car trips) in the 12 cities.

Conclusion

This study found that BSS in Europe could provide health and economic benefits. The health benefits are driven by physical activity, despite a decrease in the overall benefit due to exposure to air pollution (PM2.5) and road traffic fatalities. This study also highlights the need for transport data, especially for BSS, to promote better transport and urban planning policies.

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