Study: Biking Cuts Health Care Costs, Improves Environment

Hopping on a bicycle more often, rather than getting behind the wheel of a car could save almost $4 billion a year, according to a new study.

The study was released Wednesday by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The researchers joined members of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, John Muir Chapter Sierra Club and some state lawmakers outside the state Capitol to explain the details of the report: if people made 50 percent of their short trips by bike instead of car, it would save about $3.8 billion a year in health costs and mortality.

The study also notes the benefits of reducing emissions.

“If we took these short car trips off the road, we would eliminate 4 trillion pounds of co2 emissions every year,” said Dr. Jonathan Patz, a professor at the UW’s Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Study. He is an internationally-recognized expert on climate change.

The study followed more than 31 million people in six states — Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio.

Researchers estimate that the combined benefits of improved air quality and physical fitness would exceed $7 billion in savings — saving 1,000 annually.