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Interesting statistics  have been released about the benefits of higher numbers of cycle commuters — for the riders themselves and also for the broader population who dont ride. The research has found that walking or cycling to work, on green and healthy streets, can cut your risk of heart disease by almost one quarter, and your risk of type 2 diabetes by 15%.

The research by C40 Cities revealed today the scale of the potential health benefits that could be achieved by cities and regions implementing climate action and policies to clean the air that citizens breathe. Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, and Chair of C40 and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Former Governor of California and founder of R20 - Regions of Climate Action, presented the findings on the eve of the One Planet Summit to be held in Paris on December 12th.

The research, conducted by C40 Cities reveal that

  • Under the commitments made by Paris in the C40 Green & Healthy Streets Declaration, improvements to the air quality in Paris will avoid an estimated 400 air quality related premature deaths per year and add 21 days to life expectancy on average for every resident in the city of Paris.
  • This will prevent an estimated 1,280 respiratory hospital admissions and 6,350 cardiovascular hospital admissions in Paris each year triggered by air pollution 
  • If all C40 cities reduced their annual average PM2.5 levels by 2.5 µg/m³ - by for example meeting the commitments of the Green & Healthy Streets Declaration and encouraging more people out of their cars - it would potentially prevent more than 45,000 premature deaths each year.
  • Switching from driving to an active commute (walking at a brisk pace or cycling 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week) can deliver the following health benefits for citizens:

o   23% reduced risk of heart disease,

o   23% reduced risk of stroke, 

o   15% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes,

o   14% reduced risk of depression,

o   12% reduced risk of breast cancer

o   11% reduced risk of dementia, and

o   8% reduced risk of colon cancer

  • An active commute also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and therefore prevents climate change - If 10% of citizens in C40’s North American Cities switch from driving to cycling that would save over 1.6 million tonnes of CO2e per year, equivalent to 180 million gallons of gasoline consumed.

These findings are based on research conducted by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group with support from Johnson & Johnson on the wider benefits of climate action on air quality and health, and Novo Nordisk in connecting active mobility to climate and health.  

As Mayor of Paris my first priority is to protect the health and wellbeing of Parisians. This research reveals that the policies we are implementing to clean the air we breathe and restrict the polluting diesel and petrol vehicles will add 3 weeks onto the life of every citizen, whilst also preventing climate change,” said Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris and C40 Chair. “If the policies are escalated to cities and regions around the world, the health benefits will affect tens of thousands of people. Now we see just how dangerous those forces who want to prevent the shift to clean and healthy streets really are. Nothing will hold us back.”

“I am proud to stand with Mayor Hidalgo to bring the life andthe spotlight,” said Arnold Schwarzenegger Founder of R20. “As we both know, Governors and Mayors have a duty to protect the health and safety of their citizens, and air pollution is one of the greatest threats to mankind, with over 7 million people dying worldwide every year. Together, through the R20 and C40, we will inspire subnational leaders around the globe to focus on the immediate dangers and health impacts of fossil fuels.”

In April 2017, C40 and R20, organisations representing the most powerful cities, states and regions of the world including Paris, London, Mexico City, California, British Columbia and Gujurat State in India, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate to tackle climate change. C40 and R20 will collaborate across a range of issues, including accessing finance for climate action projects and supporting the next generation of women climate leaders.

World champion cyclist, and C40 Cities ambassador for cycling cities, Peter Sagan sent a message of support to encourage more people to travel by bike in cities.