Photo by synes on Flickr

A new study has found that Barcelona's bike-share program, Bicing, prevents 12 deaths per year. That may not sound like much in a city of 1.6 million, but it sure seems like a big deal if you're one of the 12.

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Barcelona is an eminently walkable and bikable city, and Bicing has been hugely popular — 11 percent of the city's population is signed up for bike sharing. And that's done a lot for the city's health. Biking (and Bicing) increases the risk of accidental injury and air pollution exposure, but the health benefits of getting out of the car outweigh those risks enough to reduce mortality citywide.

Of course, these numbers only apply if Bicing's 180,000 users mostly switched from car commutes, rather than public transportation or walking. But the researchers plugged a few different set of assumptions into their model, and in all cases, the result was more or less the same: Bike-sharing carried a net health benefit.

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