Over 100 people came along to our public meeting on cycling and health, with expert speakers on the huge physical activity benefits, the dangers of air pollution and road crashes, and how politics can help maximise the benefits and reduce the downsides.
There’s a nice overview of the meeting in this Storify constructed by our main speaker, Professor Chris Oliver, from tweets about the meeting.
Two big lessons emerged early on…
- The physical activity benefits of getting about by bike greatly outweigh the dangers. In Scotland there are around 200 road deaths a year, and over 2000 deaths brought on by air pollution. But, despite this, a middle-aged person who cycles regularly typically enjoys the fitness level of someone 10 years younger, and gains two years in life expectancy.
- Everyone knows that cycling is healthy – but for most people that is not why they start to use a bike. In two hands-up votes, everyone thought that cycling is healthy – but only a very few people had taken up cycling for that reason. Surveys suggest that for most people the immediate fear of a road crash outweighs the much greater, but long-term, health benefits and, indeed, the long-term pollution disbenefits. Road conditions need to feel safer for an increasingly wide range of people to have the confidence to use a bike.
Prior to the meeting, Spokes published a Bulletin Supplement on Cycling & Health [click graphic above] with pages supplied by three of the speakers. This material, together with the presentations, resulted in a very well informed hour of discussion after the speeches, with some very articulate – and gender-balanced – questioning.
- Physical Activity Benefits – Professor Chris Oliver Honorary Professor of Physical Activity at Edinburgh University … Presentation [ppt] … Supplement page [pdf] … Fuller article with references [pdf]
- Air pollution – Emilia Hanna Friends of the Earth Air Pollution Campaigner … Presentation [ppt] … Supplement page [pdf] … Fuller article with references [pdf]
- Road crashes – Jodi Gordon Assistant Solicitor at Cycle Law Scotland … Presentation [ppt] … Supplement page [pdf]
- Political aspects – Cllr Cammy Day Vice Convener of Edinburgh City Council’s Health Committee … Presentation [ppt] … Edinburgh Bike Life report [pdf]
- Audience QA/ panel discussion – chaired by Dr Helen Zealley former Public Health Director at NHS Lothian … Report of discussion [pdf].
- Tweeting … please RT our tweet of this report!
Our Speakers and a selected slide from each. See above for links to full presentations…