Metropolitan areas around the world struggle with the same problem: More people means more traffic. If the majority of residents and workers use private vehicles, this leads to more congestion and emissions, more road crashes, lower air quality and therefore an overall decline in quality of life. But what if a significant portion of people living in cities relied on cycling or other modes of active transport? In Turkey, this led us to the question: Can supporting cycling as a key mode of travel contribute to improving the quality of life for everyone?
Quality of life is often defined as a sense of well-being arising from various aspects of life that are important to a person or society. It broadens the idea of health to include mental, physical and environmental health. Assessing the overall quality of life for a city or country is not an easy task, as the factors contributing to a good life are so diverse. The global database NUMBEO currently provides a quality of life index for countries by using a purchasing power index, pollution index, house price to income ratio, cost of living index, safety index, health care index, traffic commute time index and climate index.
Perhaps not surprisingly, when examining the quality of life index and cycling modal share data for European Union countries, the most cycle-friendly countries also appear to be the most livable ones. Six of the top 10 EU countries with the highest quality of life are also among the top 10 EU countries with the largest share of cycling in the total traffic volume. In addition, of the 10 countries with a cycling modal share of 5% or less, 6 are listed as having the lowest quality of life index scores. Although we cannot infer a cause-effect relationship from these data without more detailed research, there is a correlation.