Health effects of the London bicycle sharing system: health impact modelling study.
DOI : 10.1136/bmj.g425
Design Health impact modelling and evaluation, using a stochastic simulation model. Setting Central and inner London, England. Data sources Total population operational registration and usage data for the London cycle hire scheme (collected April 2011-March 2012), surveys of cycle hire users (collected 2011), and London data on travel, physical activity, road traffic collisions, and particulate air pollution (PM2.5, (collected 2005-12). Participants 578 607 users of the London cycle hire scheme, aged 14 years and over, with an estimated 78% of travel time accounted for by users younger than 45 years. Main outcome measures Change in lifelong disability adjusted life years (DALYs) based on one year impacts on incidence of disease and injury, modelled through medium term changes in physical activity, road traffic injuries, and exposure to air pollution. Results Over the year examined the users made 7.4 million cycle hire trips (estimated 71% of cycling time by men). These trips would mostly otherwise have been made on foot (31%) or by public transport (47%). To date there has been a trend towards fewer fatalities and injuries than expected on cycle hire bicycles. Using these observed injury rates, the population benefits from the cycle hire scheme substantially outweighed harms (net change −72 DALYs (95% credible interval −110 to −43) among men using cycle hire per accounting year; −15 (−42 to −6) among women; note that negative DALYs represent a health benefit). When we modelled cycle hire injury rates as being equal to background rates for all cycling in central London, these benefits were smaller and there was no evidence of a benefit among women (change −49 DALYs (−88 to −17) among men; −1 DALY (−27 to 12) among women). This sex difference largely reflected higher road collision fatality rates for female cyclists. At older ages the modelled benefits of cycling were much larger than the harms. Using background injury rates in the youngest age group (15 to 29 years), the medium term benefits and harms were both comparatively small and potentially negative. Conclusion London’s bicycle sharing system has positive health impacts overall, but these benefits are clearer for men than for women and for older users than for younger users. The potential benefits of cycling may not currently apply to all groups in all settings.