Bike 'superhighways' could save Danes millions in health costs

April 24, 2013 at 2:28 PM
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COPENHAGEN, Denmark, April 24 (UPI) -- Completion of all of Copenhagen's 28 bicycle superhighways could result in residents taking 34,000 fewer sick days each, a local health authority says.

The study by Region Hovedstaden, the city's health authority, calculated the health improvements caused by increased cycling could save the city $10.5 million a year, The Copenhagen Post reported Wednesday.

The report was released as the city opens its second bicycle superhighway. The 12.5-mile Farum route has wide lanes prioritized for bicycles.

Some 350,000 Danes daily use the existing 28 routes that will be upgraded. Once the renovations are complete, the health agency said an additional 30,000 residents are expected to use the routes each day.

Copenhagen's deputy mayor said the goal is for 50 percent of commuters to bike to and from school and work in the city.

However, a recent government proposal could negate the health effects from the planned bike routes.

The Danish government has agreed to abolish taxes on beer and sugary soft drinks to encourage people to buy their beverages at home rather than travel to Germany, where the products are much cheaper.

Health organizations have criticized the plan, saying an increase in medical bills could end up costing the country more.

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