Looks like whole “If you build it, they will come” thing might actually be true when it comes to bike lanes and bike paths. A new study out of the UK and published in the American Journal of Public Health found that people who live near bike lanes get more exercise each week than people for whom such infrastructure isn’t as easily accessible.
Specifically, they found that people who live within 0.6 miles of bike-friendly travel lanes average an extra 45 minutes of weekly exercise compared to those who are further flung. That 45 minutes was on top of what people were already doing to move their bodies, meaning that the extra time spent sweating didn't replace other physical activities.
Study authors note that the penchant toward surplus activity as a result of proximity to bike lanes held true across genders, age groups and social groups, but was particularly evident among those who didn't have access to a car. They also note that it took two years from the completion of the bike lanes for subjects to report extra physical activity. In other words, if you build bike lanes, and they will come—eventually. Just be patient.
Says study author Anna Goodman: "The fact that we showed an increase in overall levels of physical activity is very important, and shows that interventions of this sort can play a part in wider public health efforts to prevent diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions."
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