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The health risks and benefits of cycling in urban environments compared with car use: health impact assessment study

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 04 August 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4521

Rapid Response:

Cycle lanes are the path to pedal-powered future

I spent some of May/June this year studying the health benefits and
risks of inner-city cycling, and I am pleased to see that your paper
supports my findings.
These bicycle hire schemes are a move in the right direction for
encouraging bike use. This said, in the UK the main barrier people have in
relation to cycling, is not the lack of bicycles, but the lack of safe
cycle lanes. The only way that we can present cycling as a safe
alternative to car use is if segregated cycle lanes are built. Countries
such as The Netherlands and Denmark which have a developed cycling
infrastructure show safe and habitual bike use. UK Government
interventions so far have been for the most part ineffective, as much of
the money is invested in less effective 'attitude-changing' schemes. If
the UK is to become a pedal-powered nation then investment must go towards
building a cycle-friendly infrastructure which offers an environment where
it is safe to cycle. The budgets that go towards building cycle lanes
should not reflect the number of people that currently cycle, but the
number of people we want to see cycling.

Competing interests: No competing interests

29 August 2011
Colin W. Primrose
Medical student
The University of Glasgow