Tuesday 23 April 2013

The Times Petition

On Wednesday April 24th, the Get Britain Cycling parliamentary inquiry will submit its crucial report to the Government.

If Britain is to realise the potential benefits of promoting cycling as a healthy and affordable mode of transport (details below), then it is vital that the Government and the Prime Minister take this report seriously and implement its recommendations in full.

Several major cycling and motoring groups will be joining with The Times in doing the same.

Full details of the report and its recommendations will appear in Wednesday's edition of The Times and will be available to view (for free, as always) at http://thetimes.co.uk/cyclesafety.

Many thanks indeed. If, together, we can reach the 100,000 signature mark, we stand a very good chance of a full debate in Parliament and forcing this high up the political agenda. We will do all we can from our end at The Times to put pressure on at the highest level.

The Details

Investing in cycle infrastructure actually saves money. A lot of north European countries now work on a economic model that talks about money saved per kilometre ridden (and the costs associated with every kilometre driven). This is made up a several contributing factors.
  • Obesity is a growing problem is this UK and has some very high forecasts for the longterm costs. Right now 20% of early teens now face this problem. In countries where cycling rates are high, the rates are near 2%. Physical inactivity is said to cost around £10bn a year.
  • Pollution is still killing us early. 5.6% of all deaths in England were attributable to long-term exposure to 'man-made' air pollution in 2010 alone. A considerable part of that is down to motor vehicle emissions. The cost to the public purse is around £8bn (about the same amount as raised by car tax).
  • Congestion on our roads slows everyone down to the tune of around £10bn a year. This is caused by too many people driving. The space a car takes up is 4-6 times that of a bicycle. 69% of all car journeys are under 5 miles, and many of those journeys can be ridden easily by a large proportion of the population. This includes partially able people as well.
  • Accidents cause a considerable financial impact on the country. This is estimated at £8.7bn.

These are only a short summary of all the effects our car-centric transport system has created for us. There's a long list with a lot of costs on one side and a lot of savings on the cycling side.

At the moment we spend a tiny amount on cycling infrastructure if looked at the overall spend on transport. This has to change and we have to start making smart choices (not like this) rather than following what we've always done expecting something to somehow change.

In a country where we seem to constantly talk about saving money, this is a no brainer. But it's not just that it saves money. This enriches us, makes our lives more pleasant, and increases our enjoyment of our public spaces (as Jeremy Clarkson said). Cycling is known to increase happiness. This cannot be underestimated.

And as a final point, helmets, hi-viz, or any other type of specialist clothing has been proved pointless or even worse in road safety. They are just a distraction. This is also true of red light jumping and pavement riding discussions, both of which are done more by people driving.

More Reading

Common Misconceptions on the Road
The Bicycle Dividend
The Cost of Motoring
Cycling and Health (PDF)
Cycle Safety Statistics
British Medical Association Report on Healthy Transport