Air pollution in London is a huge issue at the moment, which has many implications for our health. One way to tackle it is to get more vehicles off the road and more people cycling in London, which many employers are getting behind with their ‘cycle to work’ initiatives.
I cycle to work and I absolutely love it. I reach the office without paying a penny, feeling invigorated and ready to tackle the day ahead. I get on my high horse and bore colleagues about urban encounters on my jaunt from Finsbury Park to Wimbledon. Usually, my tales are met with disinterest from my coworkers, or they say things like “cycling in London? You’re mad! It’s a death trap! The lorries! What about all the pollution?”
And it made me think, does cycling in London have a bad reputation, and is this putting people off?
I think cycling in London needs an image overhaul, so I’m putting forward my case to persuade colleagues to get on a bike, save money, become healthier and help to tackle London’s pollution problem:
Objection 1: But what about the lorries?
It’s true that there have been some tragic accidents involving lorries and cyclists over the past few years but cycling infrastructure in London is getting an injection of funding and the cycle superhighways are now starting to be really great.
Secondly, mile by mile, people in the UK are actually more likely to die walking than cycling, according to figures from the Department for Transport. For every billion miles cycled in 2015, 30.9 cyclists were killed, while 35.8 pedestrians were killed for every billion miles walked.
Objection 2: The pollution exposure offsets any benefits from exercise
This is a myth. Although cyclists do inhale more polluted air than pedestrians because of heavier breathing, according to a 2015 study at King’s college London you could cycle for hours on end in London rush hour and still improve your health with every pedal stroke. Pollution in London drastically needs addressing and for people who suffer from asthma, have heart conditions or respiratory issues, it’s still a serious concern, but getting more people cycling is part of the solution.
Objection 3: It’s too much effort
Cycling is the most efficient form of transportation on the planet. You can move five times faster than walking and go three times as far on the same amount of caloric energy. So, in actual fact, it’s less effort.
Above all these benefits, for me, it’s the frame of mind cycling puts me in. The stress relief at the end of the day rather stress-inducing public transport. Your fate is in your own hands- no signalling failures, no passenger alarms, just you and the bike. All you have to do is have a bit of road awareness, some willing, and a bike.
By Stuart E.