Tuesday, 20 September 2016

"It's healthier to cycle than drive"

A recent reader's letter in The Evening Standard:

On Wednesday air pollution in outer London was worse than in central London, according to AirText. No doubt potential cyclists were put off by the nitrogen dioxide and particulates they would breathe in but as tests by Enviro Technology Services earlier this year showed, air pollution is actually worse inside cars than outside.

Nitrogen dioxide inflames the lungs, stunts growth and increases the risk of respiratory diseases such as asthma and lung cancer, particularly in children. So, despite the poor air quality, it is healthier to cycle than to drive.

Today marks the beginning of European Mobility Week, which aims to encourage local authorities to introduce and promote sustainable transport alternatives to cars. Only two authorities in the capital have signed up — Lambeth and the City of London.

In the week that the Government rejected a diesel scrappage scheme we all need to consider giving cycling, walking and public transport a go. The car is no longer king — and its pollution is killing us.

Andree Frieze, Make Air Safe & Clean (MASC)

Well, clearly it's not healthier to cycle than drive, unless you ignore the hundreds of people injured or killed while cycling, plus the nuisance value of the lycra crew blocking the roads when you want to go for a spin.

Assuming the facts as stated to be true, the solution to maximising your personal health/safety level is blindingly obvious:

a) Take the bus or train when travelling to inner London.

b) Drive a convertible car with the roof down when travelling around outer or outside London (or at least open the sun-roof and all the windows in a normal car).


View from the Solent said...

"Drivers and passengers inside vehicles **may** be exposed to higher levels of air pollution than pedestrians on the road outside"
From the Enviro study. On a van with the windows closed driving along the M4. (pedestrians?).
Not much ventilation in a van. Lots in a car.

Lola said...

And all scrappage schemes do is end up subsiding car dealers and car makers.


Mark Wadsworth said...

VFTS, I did caveat it!

L, largely, although you can view it as a VAT reduction, so fair enough.

pen seive said...

Every so often a group of inward looking, tunnel visioned, experts tell us how we are slowly killing ourselves and what we can do to stop it. A few years ago, so called experts, supported by government statistics, showed that deisel engines were cleaner than petrol engines. Those who drove petrol powered cars became pariahs and those who drove deisels were rewarded with lower vehicle tax. The, along came another group of experts who told us that the other lot were incompetent cretins and diesel was the power source of the devil. As a result of this, those who had slavishly followed government statements and had bought diesel cars found themselves with a pile of metal junk mthat no one wanted to buy, apart from those who have found that regular use of red diesel in road cars saved them a couple of bob. Now, those who ride bikes are healtheir than those who drive cars, despite the fact that for 6 months of the year this country is undated with cold, wet, very wet, rain allowing those unhrealthy car drivers to remain dry while the healthy cyclists are prone to regular doses of rain, fog, sleet and splashes from passing cars. Why doesn't someone in authority ban ALL cars, vans, lorries, bikes and trikes and make everyone either walk or use horses, like our much healthier forebearers did. This will allow us the regular use of clean air which will help us spotting, and avoiding, the piles of horsesh*t now covering the roads. The politicians and experts of course will be expempt this and will continue to use 'official' transport and thus avoid the shite that the rest of us have to put up with.
Never mind, "first kill all the lawyers", why not "first kill all the exp[erts (and politicians while we're at it)",

Bayard said...

"plus the nuisance value of the lycra crew blocking the roads when you want to go for a spin."

Why do you think you have more right to the road space than them?

Lola said...

B. Because they don't pay for the roads?

Mark Wadsworth said...

P, the experts will get it right sooner or later.

B, lighten up! Cyclists are always complaining about cars on the roads, do you not think it's acceptable for me to take the piss out of this by putting on my motorist hat and complaining about cyclists?

pen seive said...

If they pay income tax, they pay for the upkeep of the roads (or non-upkeep, if you live where I live).

mombers said...

Lola, cyclists take up a fraction of the space of a car, impose just about zero wear and tear on the surface, and impose a much smaller burden on everyone else via deaths and injuries. Attempting to collect a proportionate user fee would be costly and largely evaded.
That said, most cyclists are twats.

Bayard said...


Road tax goes to the government, who only maintain trunk roads and motorways, the former of which are avoided by cyclists and from the latter of which they banned.

Bayard said...

Mark fair enough, that remark caught me at a bad moment.

Shiney said...

@M - "Cyclists are always complaining about cars on the roads" - because people on bikes (aka cyclists) get injured and killed by people in cars and lorries (aka drivers).... not the other way around.

Twattish cycling rarely causes injury or death.... twattish driving often does. And don't come back with anecdotal evidence about red light jumping/pavement riding "cyclists" not adhering to the highway code etc etc etc because virtually all injury and death on Britain's roads and pavements are caused by people in vehicles.... i.e. drivers.

mombers said...

@Shiney +1. Cyclists do sqrt(naff all) harm compared to drivers, only fair that they have to pay.

Shiney said...

@M - I hate the term 'cyclist'. It is generally used as a catch all term of abuse as in

'Red light jumping cyclist'
'Pavement riding cyclist'
'Cyclists getting in the way/clogging up the roads'

Its a way of dehumanising an 'other' minority group - they are PEOPLE on bikes. As good/bad/competent/indifferent/twattish as people walking (pedestrians) in vehicles (drivers).... whatever. Its just that 'cyclists' and 'pedestrians' get killed by drivers.... bot the other way around.

And in the same way that, as a 'cyclist', I'm not responsible for the twats who ride on the pavement etc etc, I'm don't hold 'drivers' responsible for the phone using/nose picking/speeding/impatient/ignorant fat wankers I see every day on my commute.