Stefan Gelbhaar, a member of Germany's Green Party, has proposed that those who ride bikes to work should get an extra day of leave each year. And he makes some pretty good points.
“Statistics have shown that people who regularly cycle to work fall ill less frequently and have fewer days of absence from work,” Gelbhaar told CNN
According to the press release on his website:
- People who ride to work are significantly less ill throughout the year, with Gelbhaar referencing calculations ranging from two days to 30% less days off per year.
- In 2017, German employees were unable to work for an average of 16.7 days - a total of 668.6 million sick days.
- The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) estimates the production losses incurred from sick days at 76 billion euros, and the gross value creation loss at 136 billion euros per year.
- An extra day off for riding to work would encourage more people to ride, benefiting companies by reducing the overall sick days taken by their staff.
- Health insurance companies would also benefit from the lower medical expenses.
- The people who rely on the car for commuting also benefit, as more cycling leads to less cars on the road and thus less congestion.
Throw in the benefits to the environment and climate... and it makes a lot of sense!
Of course the fun police (German insurance provider, Barmer) had to poke some holes in the suggestion, pointing out "what about people who do not ride a bicycle, but instead pay attention to a balanced diet? And what about the overweight cyclist who smokes two packs of cigarettes a day?”
Which are also good points.
But at the end of the day, the health benefits of regular riding are pretty hard to argue with.
One recent studies found that people who regularly rode a bike to work had a 52% lower risk of dying from heart disease and a 40% lower risk of dying from cancer. They also had 46% lower risk of developing heart disease and a 45% lower risk of developing cancer at all.
This is why Gelbhaar is not the first to suggest a 'whacky' incentive for riding to work (see our's here) and certainly won't be the last.
This timely message from Germany comes in the lead up to Bicycle Network's National Ride2Work Day.
If, like Gelbhaar, you believe in the health and societal benefits of riding to work, make sure you register and spread the word about National Ride2Work Day on Wednesday 16 October.Learn more about Ride2work