The Benefits of Going Dutch

A report published in the journal Nature reveals the benefits of going Dutch.

Lady cycling in Rotterdam
Cyclist in Rotterdam

We all know that the Dutch love to cycle. In the Netherlands, cycling is a way of life and is so common that there are more bikes than people, according to BBC News. As many as 70 percent of journeys are by bike in cities like The Hague and Amsterdam. But what if the rest of the world embraced bikes with the same gusto? Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark endeavoured to find out – and the results are in.

They calculated that the world would save 686m metric tonnes of carbon annually if everyone got about like the Dutch, who cycle on average 2.6km (1.6 miles) a day. That’s equivalent to around 20 percent of global car emissions.

It’s certainly doable. In the UK, for example, 60 percent of journeys between one and two miles are made by motor vehicle, most of which could easily be done by bike.

The study also found that 620,000 deaths could be prevented globally if Dutch cycling patterns caught on. People who cycle to work have a 45 percent lower risk of developing cancer, and a 46 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, research has shown.

“The significant untapped climate and health benefits of increasing bicycle use suggest an urgent need to promote sustainable bicycle use,” the authors concluded.