If people young and old made just one in 10 trips by bike, Brits could gain the equivalent of almost one million extra healthy years of life over the next decade, British Cycling said today as it launched a 10 point plan for how Britain can be transformed into a true cycling nation.
New research, published today and commissioned by British Cycling from Cambridge University, has also shown that if people replaced just five minutes of the 36 minutes they spend each day in the car with cycling, there would be an almost 5% annual reduction in the health burden from inactivity-related illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some cancers.
If 10% of trips in England and Wales were made by bike, the savings to the NHS of the top inactivity related illnesses would be at least £250 million per year.*
British Cycling today used the new research to launch a manifesto that details how national and local government should be prioritising cycling as a form of transport.
The new manifesto, named Time to #ChooseCycling and launched at a reception in Parliament, sets out what needs to happen to get Britain cycling at even a fraction of the levels seen in the Netherlands and Denmark.
British Cycling’s policy adviser and Olympic gold medallist, Chris Boardman, said:
“Britain is now one of the most successful cycling nations in the world. How can we be getting it so right in terms of elite success but still be failing to truly embed cycling as an everyday part of British culture? This research demonstrates that the impact of more cycling would have positive effects for everyone.
“In the 1970s, the Netherlands made a conscious choice to put people first and make cycling and walking their preferred means of transport. It is no coincidence that they are also one of the healthiest and happiest nations in the world. Local and national government needs to wake up and realise that cycling is the solution to so many of the major problems Britain is now facing.”
Chris Boardman will talk through the #ChooseCycling action plan later today when he gives evidence to the Transport Select Committee’s inquiry on cycling. Now is the time to give every day cycling the investment and attention it deserves, Boardman will say. From tackling dangerous HGVs to asking government to up its spending on cycling from just £2 to £10 per head, Chris Boardman will persuade MP’s that the opportunity to transform cycling is now a very real possibility with the right political will at a national and local level.
Dr James Woodcock, a senior researcher at Cambridge University’s Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), said:
“Cycling is a great way for people to embed physical activity in their everyday lives. If we can get people to stay active throughout their lives then it can make a huge difference to their health. To make cycling a mass activity in Britain, as it is in the Netherlands, is going to require both environments that make cyclists feel safe and a culture that says cycling is a normal way for people to get around - whatever their age. This research, based on scenarios for towns and cities in England and Wales, outside London, shows the potential for population health benefits from cycling.”
* Heart disease alone currently costs the NHS around £2 billion per year. A 5% reduction in burden to the NHS would equate to a saving of around £100 million annually. If heart disease is added to the costs of strokes and obesity related cases of Type 2 diabetes, the total annual burden on the health service is around £5 billion. Calculation by British Cycling.
10-point plan to transform Britain into a true cycling nation
Cycle-proofing: accommodate cycling in everything we do
Cycle-proofing means that all relevant policy-
making specifically addresses the impact a new
infrastructure plan will have on the convenience,
desirability and safety of cycling. The outcome
is roads and junctions that accommodate
cycling through better road design and traffic
Meaningful and consistent levels of investment
For cycle-proofing to become a reality it has to
be backed with meaningful and consistent levels
Consistent political leadership for cycling
National and local government must set out long-
term cycling action plans with measurable targets,
including designating responsibility for growing
cycling to senior officials.
Improving the justice system to protect and support vulnerable road users
Review how incidents where people on bikes are
killed or seriously injured are investigated and
prosecuted to give all road users the confidence
that the justice system will protect them.
Adding cycling safety to the driving test
Cycle awareness must be a core part of driving
tests with the emphasis on testing how to drive
safely when sharing the road with people on bikes.
Strengthening cycling safety provisions in the Highway Code
Where the Highway Code deals with people
on bikes, the focus must shift to measures that
improve safety most effectively such as the need
for new overtaking standards and removing advice
to wear certain clothing when cycling.
Road and cycle safety awareness
National government and council-led road safety
campaigns must focus on reducing risk at source
with clear and consistent messaging.
Reducing the risk to people on bikes from HGVs
Make HGVs fit for use on our roads by improving
the design of new vehicles, ensuring all existing
vehicles are as safe as possible and by helping
drivers through improved training and planning.
Cycle training made available for all children
Make cycle training part of the curriculum to give
all children the opportunity to learn how to ride
safely on the road.
Reducing speed limits saves lives of all road users
Make it easier and cheaper for councils to reduce
speed limits in urban and residential areas.