An interesting article in Reuters Health, Bike Lanes are a Sound Public Health Investment, based on research into the cost-effectiveness of building bike lanes in NYC, showed that bike lanes deliver a far better return on investment in public health than most “direct health treatments” like dialysis or “medical interventions” like Medicaid.
“Every $1,300 New York City invested in building bike lanes in 2015,” according to the article, “provided benefits equivalent to one additional year of life at full health over the lifetime of all city residents, according to a new economic assessment.”
While vaccines (with a very high public health ROI) cost about $100 to yield one quality-adjusted life year, or QALY, said study co-author Dr. Babak Mohit of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York, dialysis costs $129,000 for one QALY. And “‘the city spends $67,000 per QALY for Medicaid,'” said Mohit in the Reuters interview.
The study compared various costs and benefits of building bike lanes compared to not building them. Benefits included such things as more bike riding, less polution, better health among riders, etc.
“’I definitely think there’s room for expansion of bike lanes…. spending $1,300 per QALY buys you a lot more life for a lot less money,’” Mohit said.
The study focused exclusively on New York, but the authors said their model can be adjusted to calculate the public health ROI of bike infrastructure spending in other cities and communities.
To read the full Reuters Health article, click: Bike Lanes are a Sound Public Health Investment