We have been passed a superficially horrifying report from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) which supposedly details all the "benefits" of cycling - both economically and socially.
The report is full of hollow boasts like:
- Net addition of 1.3 million cyclists in 2010 take total UK cyclists to 13 million representing 27 per cent of the population, of these new cyclists 500,000 are frequent or regular Of total cyclists in the UK:
- 3.5 million (41%) are Frequent Cyclists (those who cycle once a week or more)
- 4.3 million (33%) are Regular Cyclists (those who cycled 12 or more times in the past year)
- 3.5 million (27%) are Occasional Cyclists
- 208 million cycle journeys made in 2010
- Over 200,000 people took part in Sky Ride events across the UK in 2010
- 22,000 people daily share 5,000 bikes through the Mayor of London’s Barclays Cycle Hire scheme
Britain’s Cycling Economy - retail, manufacturing and services:
- £2.9 billion gross value of cycling to the UK economy, equalling a gross cycling product of £230 per cyclist per year
- 3.7 million bikes were sold in the UK in 2010 representing a 28 per cent increase over 2009 figures.
- Bike sales in the UK in 2010 had a retail value of £1.62 billion
- £51 million of UK retail sales was accounted for bikes manufactured in the UK
- The average price per bike in 2010 was £439, lower than an average bike price of £493 in 2009
- Around 2,000 retail stores currently operate across a spectrum of activities including sales, servicing, workshops, and other speciality areas
- There are around 1,000 additional independent specialist cycling shops
Britain’s Cycling Economy - value of individual cyclists:
Britain’s Cycling Economy - employment contribution:
- The cycling economy generated an employment contribution of £500 million in 2010, including over £100 million in income tax and NI contributions, from an employment base of around 23,000
- A total of 1,700 Cycle Network jobs are estimated to be supported. These jobs generated £41 million in salaries in 2010 and £9 million in income tax and national insurance contributions
Britain’s Cycling Economy - absenteeism and health factors:
- Cycling to work is associated with less all-cause sickness absence. Mean absenteeism in cyclists is significantly lower than in non-cyclists with a significant relationship between frequent cycling and absenteeism, with regular cyclists taking 7.4 sick days per annum, compared to 8.7 sick days for non-cyclists
- Frequent cyclists save the economy £128 million in absenteeism per year, projected to save a further £1.6 billion in absenteeism over the next 10 years
- Compared with the rest of Europe, the UK has the highest number of sick days taken each year, with 225 million days estimated to have been taken in 2010 at a cost of £17 billion. This equates to around £600 per employee per annum, and an average of 7.7 days per person
Projected socio-economic benefits of wider participation in cycling:
- A 7 per cent rise in Frequent and Regular cyclists by 2013 could contribute £2 billion to the UK economy over the next two yearS
- Frequent and Regular cyclists could further save the economy £2 billion over a 10 year period in terms of reduced absenteeism
- A 20 per cent increase in current cycling levels by 2015 could save the economy £207 million in terms of reduced traffic congestion and £71 million in terms of lower pollution levels
- Latent demand for cycling could amount to around £516 million of untapped economic potential for the UK
- A 20 per cent increase in cycling levels by 2015 can save £107 million in reducing premature deaths and £52 million in NHS costs, and deliver £207 million and £71 million benefits in congestion and pollution
Well, we say all that's just a lot of rubbish and scaremongering.
And then, thinking about it, we can place this report in context... Do you remember? The LSE's links with Libya's Col. Gaddafi are a matter of record, and that the LSE's anti-car (and therefore anti-Aberdeen and by extension anti-UK economy) rant should have been published on the day that rebel fighters besiege Gaddafi's compound in Tripoli (at the time of writing) is simply too big a coincidence to discount. We remember the Colonel's warning that Europe faces "catastrophe" for backing the rebels. This LSE report is just the sort of half-cocked nonsense we were expecting. It's quite pathetic really and the LSE have embarrassed themselves again over this.
Thank goodness that we, like all the other drivers of Aberdeen Cars, have the intelligence and perspicacity to see this report for what it really is.