A study carried out by researchers in Trinity College and University College Dublin (UCD) has found that while cycling does have many benefits, it can also be “scary and hazardous” in the Dublin area, particularly for young men.
While the physical and mental health benefits of cycling were apparent from the results of the study, the researchers believe that these benefits may be masking some of the more negative impacts of cycling to work, school or college.
Using data from the 2011 census, the study of more than 500,000 Dublin city commuters investigated whether or not the risks associated with cycling to work outweighed the benefits for all ages, genders and trip lengths.
The study highlighted that men aged 20-29 who witch to commuting by bike every day have a particularly high risk of collision with other vehicles compared to the rest of the population, a risk that increases with each kilometre travelled. The inhalation of toxic emissions from surrounding vehicles was also found to be another notable negative effect of commuting by bike.
The study demonstrated that a shift in the population from motor transport to cycling had an overall positive impact on the population, with an associated 10-20% reduction in conditions like cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, colon cancer, dementia, depression and type II diabetes among individuals.
For some bike commuters, however, particularly those in the young male category aged 20-29, cycling was found to have a net negative impact. The researchers believe the results provide a scientific basis for the belief that cycling in heavy traffic in Dublin can be scary and hazardous.
Improved infrastructure and greater investment by the State in traffic management were the proposed solutions of the researchers, with Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering at Trinity College Dublin and senior author of the paper, Bidisha Ghosh, commenting: “The results of this work show that cities promoting a shift from driving to cycling should focus on providing safer cycling infrastructure and cleaner air to keep cycling as the healthiest choice of city commute.”