Association of injury related hospital admissions with commuting by bicycle in the UK: prospective population based studyBMJ 2020; 368 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m336 (Published 11 March 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m336
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Re: Association of injury related hospital admissions with commuting by bicycle in the UK: prospective population based study
Dear Authors and Editor,
Thank you for the insightful paper. I am a mix-modal commuter in London as a medical student.
I think the issues around commuting are becoming ever more important with an increasing influx into urban areas and changes in our climate.
You raise a very important conclusion that local and national infrastructure planners need to improve safety for cycling commuters. Here in London, there are some fantastic cycle routes, albeit also some of the worst traffic congestion. In areas with no designated cycle routes, weaving through traffic is like playing a game of Tetris, hoping your bike will fit through the gaps of side mirrors. If one does decide to resort to public transport. The discomfort is in a different perspective. Overcrowding on all modes such as buses, trains, and the tube is uncomfortable. Also for those commuting on the tube, there is the added discomfort of overheating, noise and air pollution. For me, the biggest anxiety is around unpredictable delays, which in essence, takes control away from the commuter.
Looking back at your conclusions regarding the need for local and national involvement in solving this issue, it seems that the public has resorted to taking control of their commute as the authorities have not been able to do so.
This brings me onto the main comment I'd like to make, which may be of interest to you. In London, I have noticed the increasing usage of 'alternative' commuting modalities such as scooters and skateboards. These can even be electric, reaching speeds of 20mph. Given the increasing popularity of this equipment, it would be interesting to see how their presence on the road would change the commuting ecosystem. Perhaps the increased influx of scooters and skateboards onto the road will ensure more careful driving and hence lesser accidents. If this equipment shares the cycle lanes, then there may be more scooter-cyclist accidents. Maybe the cyclists may get wedged out of their cycle lanes and share the road with cars.
These alternative modalities affect the public transport network too. Many are foldable scooters or underarm skateboards, which make us of the pavements shared with walkers. They can also be taken onto trains and buses, further complicating the dynamic of who has control over what mode of transport.
In summary, I’d like to highlight how risks of commuting could change due to the new introduction of alternative commuting modalities. I believe that a lack of support from local and national infrastructure planners has led to worsening travel experience and thus loss of control around commuting. Thus the public has implemented changes of their own, which raises unknown consequences for the long term.
Competing interests: No competing interests