More American bicycle commuters and bike advocates should pay attention to what's happening in Odense, Denmark. The national government has made Denmark's third largest city a laboratory for bicycling, investing much money in bicycling facilities and encouragement.
And there are signicant results, including less illness. Suggest your employer might encourage bike commuting to reduce sickdays!
From The Copenhagen Post:
Efforts to make the city of Odense more bike-friendly are showing results--fewer people are calling in sick.
Odense Cycle City, an ongoing, multi-million kroner effort to improve conditions for bicycle commuters, is proving to be a good investment. Begun in 1999, project initiatives include improved bike paths, free air pumps set up around the city, and a website where commuters can do everything from finding a new bike to warning each other about potholes.
The programme cost the city DKK 20 million (EUR 2.68 million) and has transformed Odense into one of Denmark's most bike friendly cities, increasing the number of two-wheeled commuters in the city of 186,000 by an estimated 25,000 per day.
Additional statistics showing that car ownership has increased at a slower pace in Odense than in the rest of Denmark may have city fathers seeing green, but their efforts also have a financial benefit--active citizens are low-cost citizens.
Odense estimates that over the past four years, a decrease in the number of sick days has saved DKK 33 million (EUR 4.4 million) in health service costs and unemployment benefits. Thanks to biking, say project leaders, Odense residents have fewer broken bones and fewer tumours than average.
'We have a lower death rate in Odense. People are living longer and we know that illnesses related to physical inactivity have fallen,' said Troels Andersen, the head of the Odense Cycle City programme.
Image: Web capture. Bicyclist in Odense, Denmark.