Cycling is healthy for the economy


Image: Troels Heien for Copenhagen Municipality

Image: Troels Heien for Copenhagen Municipality



Is the title of Copenhagen City’s press release on the new bike accounts.

A bicycle accounts may sound terribly dull, but one shouldn’t be fooled by that. In here, you can read about the importance of cycling for the city and its inhabitants. The city’s transportation systems are planned on the basis of socio-economic calculations about what is ‘best’ for the city. It goes without saying that socio-economic models are usually lacking a valuation of the qualities cycling as a sustainable mobility form provides the city and its inhabitants.

Until recently, calculations of what investments in cycling means for the economy were scarce. With the new bike accounts, the City of Copenhagen has changed that in order to quantify the significance of cycling and walkways, new cycle paths and conversions of traffic lights.

And the conclusion is clear: The investments are very sound and has similar or better returns than present construction projects such as the enlargement of the motorway around Roskilde or upgrading of the railway between Copenhagen and Ringsted.

The Technical and Environmental Mayor of Copenhagen, Klaus Bondam, welcomes the initiative and the results: “Now dry figures show clearly that all the biking Copenhageners have significance in relation to the national bottom line. The bicycle is by far the most preferred means of transport in Copenhagen. That is a huge plus for the city. Therefore, it is imperative that we meet the needs of cyclists when investing in tomorrow’s Copenhagen.

Thus, it is possible to appreciate in numbers the Copenhagen bike habits:

• When a person chooses to cycle, society has a net gain of 0.16 Euros per kilometre cycled. Contrary, society has a net loss of 0.1 Euros per kilometre travelled by car.

• The socio-economic benefits on health and life from cycling are seven times higher than accident costs.

• The cost of a bikes purchase and maintenance is 0.05 Euro cents per kilometre.

All the benefits of cycling for city life and its inhabitants cannot take up space in this blog. But talking about cycling in relation to health seems a good place to start. In recent years, increasing attention has been given to the significance for overall health when getting daily exercise from using cycling as a means of transport.
• Adults who cycles to work or use the bike everyday has a 30% lower mortality than others with similar living conditions and health.

• Children who cycle to school have nearly 10% better fitness than classmates who walk or are transported in cars.

The Copenhagen bicycle accounts gives you all the good arguments for why Copenhagen should be a city which is not planned on the premises of the car.

By Malene Freudendal-Pedersen • June 11, 2009



  1. Posted June 14, 2009 at 5:37 am by Mike Goodold | Permalink

    For: Malene FreudendalPedersen, 06-13-09
    “Cycling is healthy for the economy”
    Beautiful photograph. I notice most cyclists in Europe ride bikes having fenders. Gosh, as a child my bikes had fenders back in the 1950’s. Haven’t seen a bike in the USA with fenders lately. Wonder why ?
    Now, I’ll browse the remainder of this fantastic web page.
    Thank you,
    Mike Goodold USA

  2. Posted June 15, 2009 at 12:34 pm by Malene Freudendal-Pedersen | Permalink

    Hi Mike

    Well this is because in Denmark the bike is a transport mode and the fenders protects you from getting rain and dirt on your cloth when biking. Riding a bike on a wet street without fenders does not make one presentable when attending a meeting for instance :-). Most bikes which are used for sports do not have fenders in Denmark either.

    Best malene

  3. Posted June 17, 2009 at 9:55 pm by Mikael Colville-Andersen | Permalink

    Fenders, bells, chainguards, coaster brakes and even skirtguards are standard-issue on every bicycle you see in Copenhagen.

    As Malene said, the bicycle is merely a form of transport here. These basic accessories are necessities for cycling every day.

    For more on this subject and much more, visit Copenhagen’s Bicycle Culture blog if you have the time.

    Mikael… one of the other bloggers… 🙂

Malene on sustainability

Malene Freudendal-Pedersen

Malene Freudendal-Pedersen is working as an assistent professor at the Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change at Roskilde University (RUC), where she is a part of the research group Space, Place, Mobility and Urban Studies. Her main research interest are mobility and sustainability with special focus on everyday life and behaviour.