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Boosting cycling 'could be worth £6bn annually'

Monday 27th October 2014

Boosting cycle use in England “could be worth as much as £6bn annually by 2025 in health benefits alone”, according to research from two universities.

The research was commissioned by CTC, the national cycling charity, and carried out by two researchers from the University of Leeds and University of Cambridge.

Dr Robin Lovelace, of the School of Geography at the University of Leeds, and Dr James Woodcock, of Cambridge University, have released the preliminary findings of a study to quantify the health benefits of cycling if Government meets targets proposed by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s “Get Britain Cycling” inquiry in 2013.

The study suggests that health benefits could rise to £25bn annually by 2050, “but only if much more money is spent on cycling now”. It calls for more investment in “better infrastructure, training and projects such as the Cycle Share scheme in London”.

The pair of academics say that “further significant benefits, which are still being quantified, would come from reduced congestion, pollution and greenhouse emissions”.

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I also believe that information and studies like this are just based on assumptions, that they can be taken in isolation and therefore not as part and parcel of a truer picture. Ie that cycling is all good and there is no bad or downside.

If all that we read is designed to support the idea that cycling is good for the nation and we regularly get reports supporting this practically every week then we become oblivious to the downside that may or may not occur.

I have not seen a balanced argument yet that would change my opinions that support for this social and cultural change will continue to kill people for some time to come.

It took a change in culture some 70 years to get here to this point of where we are and it will no doubt take a similar timescale to alter it.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (1) | Disagree (1)
0

An assumption has apparently been made to list cycle safety incidents and injury with that of pedestrians. I find it difficult to relate to that assumption and one can only presume that the relationship is one of shared space ie pavements and pedestrian precincts. Then, and only then, can one relate statistical information as being somewhat correct.

When it come to cycling on the road then the truer statistical balance would be to assume a comparison with motorcycles and scooter riders and on the roads.

If one starts with a wrong base line one ends up with a wrong outcome and this is supposed to justify the increase use of bikes in an environment and culture that is not as yet willing to accept them. On News TV today its stated stats that serious injuries and fatalities for cyclists in London are more equivalent to a % statistic that relates more accurately with motorcycles. One cannot take a report as this as accurate if the baseline suggested are incorrect and doesn't investigate the whole or truer picture.
Bob Craven, Lancs

Agree (3) | Disagree (1)
+2

I find it a little disappointing that, when a report such as this comes along, there is a rush to make comparisons that may - or frankly may not despite apparent best efforts - cast the initiative in a poor light.

Sometimes it's worth considering something on its own merits, more often it's worth considering net gain - and initiatives around cycle use warrant consideration in each camp. Fruitless comparisons with unrelated modes add little to our understanding of whether or not, in this instance increasing cycle use, is an inherently or 'on balance' good thing.

The list of possible injuries that may result from increased cycle use in shared areas are, of course, also reflective of those sustained by pedestrians in contact with motorised traffic and, in the less serious cases - if you look at the insurance claims made against highway authorities for slips, trips and falls on the highway - also reflective of what happens when pedestrians are left to their own devices. We are not likely to be debating the future of Shank's Pony as a mode anytime soon though - although as with cycling we should and will continue to debate the best ways of managing and encouraging growth with minimised unintended consequences.
Jeremy, Devon

Agree (7) | Disagree (2)
+5

Bob:
The stats around cycle and motorcycle casualties don't support the view that cycling is likely to be more dangerous than motorcycling and experience from countries where there are high levels of cycling indicate quite the opposite.

Duncan:
Similarly the overall health outcomes of motorcycle use are extremely poor and it is only because of their (well for smaller bikes) better sustainability record compared to cars that the emphasis is on encouraging (responsible) use rather than trying to suppress them as was the case for both cycle and motorcycles in the 60s to 80s.

Experience from countries where there are high levels of cycling indicates quite the opposite.
Mark, Caerphilly

Agree (7) | Disagree (1)
+6

Push-bikes aren't the only method of transport that has beneficial health outcomes so why not boost motorcycle use as well?

http://goodworkswellness.com/how-motorcycle-riding-improves-physical-health/
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (4) | Disagree (14)
-10

I can understand that everyone is looking at developing ideas and statistics promoting health and the financial consequences of increased cycle travel. After all we are talking about taking people out of safer cars and other forms of public transport and placing them in a greatly more vulnerable situation.

Dare I ask if they have taken into account the fact that cycling in shared areas will be more dangerous than motorcycling? There will be annual increases in incident rates, bruises, broken bones, sprained ligaments, muscle damage, ribs, punctured lungs, broken limbs, facial injuries, skull damage, possible spinal damage to name but a few. Every one of these injuries may become a long standing condition which requires the service of doctors and the national health services, at a cost that has to be calculated. Maybe a total costing can also be given for the loss of income, possible loss of job, loss of home etc. I am sure that all this extra cost and suffering can be extrapolated scientifically in some way.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (11) | Disagree (13)
-2

The report estimates £6bn health benefits by 2025 rising to £25bn by 2050. That's a progression from one to the other.
Honor Byford, Chaitr, Raod Safety GB

Agree (8) | Disagree (1)
+7

Which is it? £25bn or £6bn in 'health benefits' by 2050?
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (2) | Disagree (13)
-11