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Primary care trusts and health professionals in England have been sent a new report detailing the health benefits of cycling. The report has been produced for Cycling England and is intended to address the undervaluing of cycling in some parts of the health sector.
In the introduction, Cycling England chairman Philip Darnton explains:
"This publication sets out to review the evidence that supports cycling for health and provide a solid platform for action. We hope that it will deliver useful facts and figures on cycling and health, and present a concrete justification for promoting cycling on the basis of the strong health benefits.
Our intention is that this report will be used by anyone involved in cycling, to help make the case for cycling and persuade key stakeholders that an investment in cycling is an investment in the nation’s future health."
All cyclists will find this report an authoritative goldmine of information to use in their dealings with not only health professionals, but anyone else who needs convincing that cycling is good for you.
As part of his policy to reduce motorised traffic in Paris by 40% before 2020, mayor Bertrand Delanoe is to make available more than 20,000 bikes on the city's streets by the end of 2007. The first 10,000 go into service on 15th July, based in more than 1,400 bike 'stations'. That's one every 300 yards!
Available for use by residents and visitors alike, the bikes with baskets and mudguards will be nominally free to use for the first half hour, then from €1 to €8 for periods up to 3.5 hours. Registration fees to use the bikes will cost €29 per year, €5 per week or €1 per day. The scheme follows the success of similar projects in Lyon and Bourdeaux.
Monsieur Delanoe wants to increase cycle use in Paris from the present 40,000 journeys a day to 250,000 by the end of the year. He said that the bicycles would give Parisians a new sense of “pleasure, freedom, innovation and performance”.
The new administration of President Sarkozy has been setting an example. Two ministers swapped their limousines for bicycles in Paris this week, including Alain Juppé, the deputy Prime Minister, who heads a new Environment and Transport superministry.
However, cyclists have complained that, at 20kg, the new bikes are too heavy.
Growing emissions from transport will force big cuts in other sectors if Government targets on carbon emissions are to be met, according to new research.
The research, conducted by consultants MTRU for Transport 2000, shows that homes, businesses and power stations will have to cut their carbon emissions by 42% on 1990 levels by 2020 (15% beyond existing trends), if Government targets in the Climate Change Bill are to be met and transport emissions continue to increase as forecast. The research describes the prospect of achieving such cuts - 15% beyond current trends - as "simply not credible" .
By contrast, the research says that cuts in transport emissions are essential, possible and equitable. As a first step, it proposes emissions targets backed by changes in transport taxation, including a new sales tax on inefficient cars. The overall aim will be to keep motoring costs stable - but only for those buying and running low-emission cars. The report also proposes a radical plan to redistribute any surplus from new transport taxes to individuals through a kind of "eco-bonus" scheme.
Report author Keith Buchan said, "It has been assumed by many economists - including Sir Nicholas Stern - that it is difficult and expensive to cut carbon emissions from transport, and that people won't accept it. But my research shows that it's actually cheaper to cut emissions from transport than from some other sectors, providing that the current piecemeal approach can be avoided."
Transport 2000 Campaigns Director Jason Torrance said the Department for Transport should act on the research findings: "This research shows that the DfT is a rogue department within a Government working to tackle climate change. It must take urgent and effective action to tackle carbon emissions from transport, and that there are politically acceptable ways of doing this. The DfT must reverse the current trend of rising greenhouse gas emissions from transport and implement a clear carbon reduction strategy which seeks to change behavior and redistribute the money rather than simply raise revenues."
The European Cyclists Federation has submitted the statement ‘Liveable cities are cycling cities!’ to the European Commission as part of its submission to the proposed Green Paper on Urban Transport. The title says in a nutshell what is explained in the statement: cycling should be a mainstay of urban transport for many reasons – liveability of cities, climate change, costs and benefits of investments, land use and health.
European Commission Vice-President Jacques. Barrot told Velo City 2007 that cycling would be an important part of an integrated policy for urban transport. The EC will publish Green Paper with ‘options’ in September 2007 and will invite comments. In winter 2007/2008 and spring 2008 there will be a consultation process and debates on ‘actions’. After that process the commission will publish an action plan in autumn 2008.
CCN has told the Department for Transport (DfT) that its proposed amendments to rules 61 and 63 of the new Highway Code do not address the main causes of complaint: that there is no evidence that cycle facilities and cycle lanes generally improve cycling safety and that there should not be a presumption that cyclists should use them. The rules are also very badly worded and contradictory.
The main change made by the DfT has been to explicitly state that facilities are not mandatory. Although this might provide some clarity to the layman, in legal terms it has never been an issue. Cases of contributory negligence with regard to facilities and helmets are not based on legal requirements, but on what a prudent cyclist might be expected to do. The Highway Code is accepted as a statement of prudent behaviour. The default position of rule 61 remains that it is to be expected that cyclists will normally use cycle facilities. It will be up to them, if challenged, to show that the circumstances at the particular time and place justified doing otherwise, and in particular that at the time it was unsafe to use them. The rules do not provide for ignoring facilities because it might become unsafe to do so (such as avoiding a cycle lane at a side road because this increases the risk of conflict if a vehicle emerges).
The rules are so badly worded that they will provide a feast for lawyers, but it is unlikely that there will be any practical benefit to cyclists compared with the DfT's original rules that so many cyclists found unacceptable. Worse, in many ways, is that the rules continue to promote bad practice and assume that less skilled cyclists will be better able to handle the problems inherent in many facilities than more skilled riders. This could mislead some people to ride in places where they might be less, rather than more, safe.
In the view of CCN, cyclists must be free to use their own judgement to decide how best to maximise their safety in the prevailing circumstances. The role of the Highway Code is to inform, not to restrict, those judgements.
The full response of CCN to the DfT can be found here.
The proposed DfT amendments:
61 Cycle Facilities. Use cycle routes, advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings unless at the time it is unsafe to do so. Use of these facilities is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.
63 Cycle Lanes. These are marked by a white line (which may be broken) along the carriageway (see Rule 140). When using a cycle lane, keep within the lane when practicable. When leaving a cycle lane check before pulling out that it is safe to do so and signal your intention clearly to other road users. Use of these facilities is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.
The Association of Train Operating Companies has launched the 2007 National Cycle-Rail Awards and welcomes entries and nominations from organisations and individuals throughout Britain. There are six categories:
For full details and a nomination form, go to www.cyclerail.co.uk
European health ministers from 53 countries approved the world's first charter to fight obesity in November, vowing greater action against the epidemic of expanding waistlines across the continent.
The charter, approved in Istanbul, Turkey, was drafted by the World Health Organization in consultation with its European member states. It is the first real attempt to compel national authorities to take concrete action to combat obesity. "Lots of governments have good recommendations and nice guidelines, but in terms of nutritional goals, most countries haven't achieved them," said Dr. Francesco Branca, WHO's European adviser for nutrition and food security. The charter commits governments to things like improving the availability of healthy foods and adopting regulations for safer roads to promote cycling and walking.
WHO Anti-obesity charter in full (proposed regulations for safer roads to promote cycling and walking are in sections 2.4.6, 2.4.9, and 2.4.11.)