Thursday 19 October 2017

Younger men who switch from driving to cycling in Dublin have 'particularly high risk' of collisions, new study finds

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Paul Melia

Paul Melia

SWITCHING from driving to cycling has proven physical and mental health benefits but younger men who make the change have a “particularly high” risk of collisions.

New research suggests that science backs up a general perception that cycling in the capital can be “scary and hazardous”, with men aged between 20 and 29 years at risk of being involved in collisions.

Researchers at UCD and Trinity College Dublin suggest that while that a shift to cycling is associated with a 10 per cent to 20pc reduction in conditions including cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, colon cancer, dementia, depression and type II diabetes, these overall positive findings can mask “potential negative health impacts”.

It found that  despite the overall health benefits, men aged 20 - 29 who made the switch had a particularly high risk of collisions with other vehicles on the road.

The study of more than 50,000 Dublin city commuters, which is published in the ‘Journal of Transport and Health’ investigated whether or not the benefits to an individual taking up cycling in Dublin outweighed the risks for all ages, genders and trip lengths.

The study was based on 2011 Census data.

The risk was found to increase with each kilometre travelled, and the findings supported the “general perception that cycling in heavy traffic in Dublin can be scary, and hazardous.”

Read More: Comment: 'The more that seems to be given to cyclists, the more badly behaved many seem to be'

Senior author on the paper, Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering at Trinity College Dublin, Bidisha Ghosh, said: “Commuting to work by bicycle generally brings about considerable physical and mental health benefits for the cyclists, as well as benefiting the rest of the local population through avoidance of toxic emissions and other negative impacts of motorised transport.

“However, individuals who cycle are also exposed to increased air pollution doses and an increased risk of traffic collision and injury. 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.”

The study says that improved cycle lanes, the introduction of traffic calming in residential areas and an education programme to improve drivers’ awareness of cyclists.

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