Commuter cycling can enhance the long-term physical health of the general population. But it is not well understood whether cyclists are exposed to higher risks due to air pollution and accidents. A non-marginal shift to cycling helps to realise a better general air quality, improve the overall physical condition of the population and increase general traffic safety.
The main objective is to analyse the risks and benefits of a modal shift from passenger cars to cycling. SHAPES has defined a number of specific objectives:
- To evaluate the exposure to air pollution for cyclists compared to car users
- To evaluate the physical condition of cyclists compared to car users
- To implement an online injury registration system for minor injuries in commuter cyclists
- To develop a spatial analysis for accident risks
- To integrate these risks into a common framework, to evaluate costs and benefits
- To develop a spatial analysis of trajectory choice and methodology for infrastructure development in the three Belgian regions
- To propose policy options that contribute to safer and healthier cycling and to lower emissions and social security costs in the long term
To achieve these goals the project was undertaken in two phases is proposed:
Phase 1 performed a statistical and geographical analysis of accident data to identify the causes of accidents with cyclists and the correlated spatial attributes.
Phase 2 was largely devoted to the measurement campaigns that determined the links between activity level, exposure and physical health.
SHAPES built an integrated framework to evaluate the costs and benefits of commuter cycling. The outcome of the project was a distinct set of policy options that can be used to promote a modal shift to cycling and substantially improve public health in a cost-efficient manner while taking in to account the physical capabilities of different groups and spatial constraints in different regions. The results are useful:
1. for individuals considering to give up sedentary transport in favour of cycling by providing clear insights in the individual health benefits such as a decreased risk for cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity, a better overall physical condition and risks encountered.
2. for policy makers promoting cycling to prevent chronic diseases in an aging population, to reduce air pollution by cars and to reduce CO2 emissions by highlighting non-marginal changes (e.g. infrastructure)