Safety must be Quick and Easy

What if there was one thing you could do in your life to attain the following benefits. Would you do it?

-46% lower risk of developing heart disease

-52% lower risk of dying from heart disease

-43% lower risk of developing cancer

-40% lower risk of dying from cancer

In a study published by the British Medical Journal, researchers followed large groups of people for five years and, after adjusting for sex, age, ethnicity, smoking, body mass index, and diet (among others), found these risk reductions had one thing in common.

The people with the lowest risks of heart disease and cancer…biked to work.

When surveys were taken of cyclists in various countries, from the British with a 3% bike commute percentage to the Dutch with 43% of commuters cycling, heart health and cancer avoidance were not motivators. Neither was cost nor lowering their carbon footprint.

The most common reason people bike to work?

It’s quick and easy. Planners took cyclists into consideration when building bridges, underpasses, and other infrastructure. The bike paths were accessible. The paths connected commercial and residential zones.

People die every day in the U.S. of heart disease and cancer. The 2017 numbers are around 600,000 deaths. For each disease. But with a bike commute rate of 1% in the U.S., are warnings of disease enough?

What about safety? Do we also depend on warnings of heart disease and cancer (in EHS we call these injury, job loss, and reduced social status) to inspire change?

Or could we, like the Dutch, make safety quick and easy, planning our infrastructure around it? Could our safety posters of amputated fingers really be a waste of time?


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