Cardiovascular disease has long been the leading cause of death in America, resulting in $55 billion a year in medical costs. A study by the British Medical Journal, however, found that cyclists were 46% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease, therefore significantly reducing the burden on the economy. It’s clear to see that, beyond the benefits to both physical and mental health, cycling saves money, not only on an individual level, but for the economy as a whole.
For an individual who switches from driving to cycling for everyday journeys, the savings are substantial. The AAA estimates the average cost of running a car to be in the region of $9,000 a year. After the initial outlay for a bike, however, cycling costs are minimal, and the costs of bike repair and maintenance are significantly less than those needed for a car. For those looking to save money, repair damage in their financial background, or pay back debt, cycling could make a huge difference to their security. Cyclists who keep their car but use it sparingly, can also save on their insurance: some insurers offer discounts when a car totals less than 5,000 miles a year, while others offer ‘pay per mile’ policies. If your employer is part of a commuter benefits program, you may also be eligible for tax breaks, and if you cycle regularly, you may find you need to spend less money on gym memberships. Improvements in health and fitness also reduce individual medical expenses, and lead to further savings on health insurance.
How The Economy Benefits
The cyclist is not the only one who stands to benefit, however. With the benefits to cardiovascular health, the country stands to spend less on medical costs if more people cycle. But this is not the only advantage for the economy at large. Economic writer, Scott Lane, explains that property value increases when cycle lanes are incorporated into an area, citing the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, which saw property values in the region increase by 148%. Meanwhile, cycling tourists are estimated to spend 6% more than other tourists, spending more in local businesses. Local businesses, in fact, have much to gain when fewer people drive and more people cycle: less money is being funneled into car, fuel and insurance companies, and is instead staying in the local economy. Businesses that emerge along cycle routes prove to be popular and successful amongst, not only cyclists, but also pedestrians who favor areas with fewer cars.
We’re used to thinking of the benefits cycling has to our health, but the positive impacts it can have go much further than this. Nothing exists in a vacuum, and improvements in health have a knock-on effect on both personal finances and the economy at large. Furthermore, the savings an individual can make by not driving, and the boosts cycling can make to the local economy are significant. Clearly, we should be pedaling for our financial health as well as our physical health.
Story submitted as special contribution by Sally Writes.