Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Benefits of cycling

Cycling England commissioned a report on the benefits of cycling. The analysis performed by SQW consulting reports that the benefits of cycling are many fold. Not only are the benefits to the individual documented, such as improved health and fitness, but also considered are the benefits to society in areas such as reduced health costs, less road congestion, pollution etc.

Whilst there are many positives noted in the report, the current situation viewed against the backdrop of previously set targets are also noted. The story is not good. Not only will cycling targets not be met, apparently cycling activity is declining (by one fifth in ten years).

Some of the numbers and costs are quite startling. Life expectancy falling, cost of diseases and health issues due to inactivity £8.2bn in 2002. Road traffic is responsible for 22% of UK greenhouse gases. Commuting could save an average of £400 per cyclist. A 20% increase in cycling would produce benefits of £500m in the next five years. These include savings of £107m in reducing premature deaths in adults, £52m in NHS costs, £87m for employers by reduced sickness, £71m a year in reduced pollution, £201m by reduced road congestion. Bearing in mind the low number of cyclists currently, this 20% rise is nothing when compared with true cycling oriented cultures.

Cycling England have taken the findings of the report to propose a new cycling programme called 'Bike for the Future II'. This involves training and encouragement for children for travelling to school and producing cycling demonstration towns. The report contains detailed breakdown of the costs of implementing the programme against the possible benefits.

A summary of the main points also appeared in the newspaper Mail on Sunday.

The full 86 page document is available from with an executive summary at

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