Adequate bikes lanes for cyclists could save the country £1million a day, according to a new study produced by cycling charity Sustrans.
The charity, who have provided cycle lanes across the country, are using the results of the study to put pressure on the government to press on with their Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, which was announced last month.
Researchers came to the conclusion that the National Cycle Network has saved £7 billion pounds since it was established 20 years ago.
Around £6 billion pounds worth of savings were attributed to improvement of health, the rest being made up of reduced congestion, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
In the last year alone, it was stated that the Network had saved £162 million for the country, and the NHS £22 million.
The estimates came from identifying the cost of inactivity – around £20 billion a year – and then looking at the number of people who could be assumed to have reduced their risk using the Network of traffic free cycle lanes.
Absenteeism was also revealed to be greatly reduced by people walking and cycling to work – with an overall saving of £200million for businesses.
In addition, using the Department for Transport’s official framework, the researchers estimated that 30 million car trips have been saved in the last 20 years thanks to adequate provision.
In a plea for the Government to move forward on the investment, Chief executive at Sustrans Malcolm Shepherd, said: “We have demonstrated beyond doubt that many more people walking and cycling is good for our health, and it’s smarter for our economy.
“If a charity can lead the creation of a Network of routes that runs the length and breadth of the country, imagine what could be possible if government created safer conditions for walking and cycling, including reducing speeds.”
We have demonstrated beyond doubt that many more people walking and cycling is good for our health, and it’s smarter for our economy.
He added: “To make walking and cycling local journeys an option for everyone we need the new government to provide funding for cycling and walking to be equivalent of 5% of the transport budget, and a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy that contains a long-term vision and targets, in the same way that already exists for our roads and railways. This relatively small investment has the potential to have huge benefits for us all.”
This relatively small investment has the potential to have huge benefits for us all.
The results of this study are not alone in promising economic benefits from healthier living. Across the pond, a study weighing up the benefits of investment in cycling in Portland, Oregon, found the city could save almost £8bn by 2040 in better public health.
A further study carried out by the University of California also found that cities where residents are more physically active have better economy, higher property values and improved school performance, as well as a healthier population.
We spoke to many women at the recent Women in Cycling Conference who were adamant that better provision for cyclists would encourage more women to ride, too.
This anecdotal evidence is supported by a cyclescheme study into the factors putting women off riding, which listed uneven roads and abuse from motorists as factors which deterred 34% of women questioned.
Do you think more investment is needed? We’d love to hear your views…