Cycling Away From Covid And Into Healthier Times
Out of all the tragic stories coming from the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been the odd interesting challenge to how we used to live our lives. Out of difficult circumstances often comes the process of evaluation on what went on before. One area that has seen huge change in the last few months, is the priority to promote active travel. To you and me this is simply choosing walking and cycling for a journey when otherwise you might take the car.
Cycling in Holland and Copenhagen with the family has often led me to be that ‘annoying one’ banging this drum. “Good for air quality, good for your health, good for those that have no choice but to travel by car2 I would shout. Kind people on my social media feeds would nod (if only metaphorically), but there was always a sense of ‘well its just not going to happen’. One only needs to see the vitriol aimed at cyclists who dare to report close passes to the police to see that there are those that even the installation of a temporary cycle lane to assist the commute of key workers is too much to bear.
But it seems that following Mr Johnson’s own Covid health scare, he is finally convinced that prevention is better than the cost of treating the problem. It is very similar to the issues of brain injury medicine: where we are world beating in treating trauma patients, but then very poor at providing the vital rehab that would not only improve the quality of life for the injured individual, but save the NHS millions over their lifetime. Spend some dosh now, save a lot of dosh later.
Now the Government is making all the right noises; ‘healthier, happier and greener communities’, ‘safer streets where nobody is afraid to cycle’, and ‘convenient and accessible travel’, where cycling and walking are recognised as the most desirable and affordable way to travel in our local areas. Today you can even claim a £50 bike voucher to service that rusty Raleigh racer in the shed. Lofty ambitions indeed.
Whilst we won’t turn into a nation of cyclists overnight, as a solicitor who deals with the aftermath of accidents involving cyclists every day of my working week, I applaud what this government are trying to do. Of course some of the promises might be empty, of course we are in a global recession where money in all areas of Government is scarce, but the release today of the document entitled Gear Change, a Bold Vision for cycling and walking is clear. A commitment to fund hundreds, then thousands of miles of safe, continuous, direct routes for cycling, physically separated from pedestrians and volume motor traffic, serving the places people want to go. Now there’s something to hold them accountable for.
So get out and try it, spend the £50 voucher, cycling is not just for the lycra crew, its for you and me.
By Tim Ransley, Solicitor in the Personal Injury Dept at Bennett Griffin