Spending money on encouraging cyclists could actually save the government money, as well as combating climate change, according to a new report. Getting more cyclists on the road could save the UK taxpayers £520 million, according to government-backed cycling group, Cycling England.
They say that a 20% increase in the number of bicycle journeys in the UK would lower healthcare costs by improving the health of the nation, and reduce congestion. A relatively small £70m annual investment in cycling initiatives could apparently reduce the number of car journeys per year by 54m by 2012. This would have a huge impact on the environment, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by a massive 35,000 tonnes. This, of course, assumes that the cycling initiatives were successful, rather than expensive and ineffectual marketing campaigns.According to the report, each cyclist saves the NHS £28.30 every year, by not having as many heart attacks and other problems. Cycling in London is quite dangerous though, so the average cyclist probably costs the NHS some money in broken legs and other taxi-related illnesses.
Professor Stephen Glaister, an Imperial College London transport expert, warned that, "It is certainly a problem we face in London in that we have succeeded in encouraging more cycling but more cyclists are exposed to death and injury as a result."
The chairman of Cycling England, Phillip Darnton, said, "There are very few activities that tackle so many of the things that the government is concerned about, from health and obesity to government and pollution. An investment of £70m is small in terms of government spending, and this study shows that it will work."
The Department for Transport maintains statistics, which show a decline from 1997 to 2005 in cycling in the UK. The average distance travelled per person, per year by bicycle fell 7 miles to 36 miles. ::The Guardian ::Picture Source