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Getting Britain Back on Its Bike
Could Save Half a Billion

The British taxpayer could be saved more than £520m over the next decade if more cyclists are encouraged back onto the nation’s roads according to a new report released today.

Cycling England - the body charged by the government to encourage more people to cycle more safely and more often - says a 20% increase in journeys by bike would trim down healthcare costs while cutting congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.

In their report, 'Valuing the Benefits of Cycling', the body estimates that, through an annual investment of £70m in cycling initiatives, up to 54 million car journeys a year could be reduced by 2012. This proposed decrease would subsequently cut CO2 emissions by 35,000 tonnes.

According to their findings, an adult who swaps a car for a bicycle on a return journey of 2.5 miles (the average cycle trip) could make an annual saving of £137.28 through reduced congestion. What’s more, the typical cyclist saves the NHS £28.30 per year.

The study, undertaken by SQW Consulting, says that if the number of cycle journeys returns to 1995 levels (currently down 20% - from 43 journeys per person per year to 36), then by 2015 around £523m could be saved. The breakdown of this figure takes in premature adult deaths (£107m), adult NHS costs (£52m), absence from work (£87m), pollution (£71m), congestion (£207m).

"There are very few activities that tackle so many of the things that the government is concerned about, from health and obesity to government and pollution," claims Phillip Darnton, chairman of Cycling England. "An investment of £70m is small in terms of government spending, and this study shows that it will work."

If you’re on your bike in Central London this Sunday (23rd September) be sure to take part in the Hovis London Freewheel event that will see many of the capital’s roads closed for cycle use only.

Click here for Cycling England >>

Click here for Hovis London Freewheel >>

story published: 11:45 - Monday 17th September 2007