Many of the 'announcements' in John Reid's White Paper are far from new (Booost's tax-efficient bike purchase scheme, the National Standard on cycle training, Sustrans' National Cycle Network exists) and the plugs are rather drowned out by the 'smoking to be banned' media coverage but, still, it's good to see a government document so positive about cycling.

Public Health White Paper is peppered with plugs for cycling

The White Paper went online just before 1pm. It’s available as a series of PDF downloads from the Department for Health website.

Cycling gets lots of name-checks. Even a bike shop – Cycle Heaven of York – gets an honourable mention.

Some of the more notable passages are quoted here:


"People of all ages are discouraged from walking or cycling by excessive traffic and its speed.


"Opportunities – provided by local authorities, and the voluntary and private sector – can play an important part in increasing physical activity, but it is also important to incorporate exercise into daily life. Walking and cycling present practical, alternative forms of activity that can be part of the daily routine for most people. The Government and its partners have already begun to create a better environment to walk or cycle. Under Sustainable Travel Towns pilots to develop guidance for local authorities, PCTs and others on whole­town approaches to shifting travel from cars to walking, cycling and public transport. "

"Even with [an] improved environment for walkers and cyclists, there are behavioural and psychological barriers to overcome. People need to see the benefits of not taking the easy option of hopping into the car for short trips.""


"[Local authorties] and transport charity Sustrans, are forecast to build over 7,000 miles of new cycle lanes and tracks, and we are also providing new investment to link more schools into the existing National Cycling Network.


"Promoting improved health in the workplace – we will work with the cycle industry to promote cycling."


"There are some simple measures employers can take to promote health in the workplace. For example, Inland Revenue rules allow employers to help staff in a number of ways to increase their physical activity by cycling to work, including through tax­efficient bike purchase from salary. The use of these concessions is low, in part because of lack of knowledge and understanding. The Department for Transport will work with the cycle industry to produce user­friendly guidance on the tax­efficient bike purchase scheme to increase the use of the scheme and promote cycling."

NATIONAL STANDARD (think ‘cycling proficiency comes of age).

"Support for cycling – we will drive forward the new National Standard for cycle training across England by 2006, through new support for instructor training schemes and advice to local communities on implementation."

"Support for children who want to cycle…Research suggests that after training, people cycle both more safely and more often. Cycling training in schools and communities across England is patchy, and while some local authorities run model schemes, others provide no training, or training on the playground only. Working with more than 20 road safety and cycling organisations, the Department for Transport has produced a new National Standard for cycle training. The Standard aims to ensure that trained children have the skills to cycle safely on the road. We will drive forward action to implement the new National Standard for cycle training for children across England by 2005/06 by establishing a formal cycle training and curriculum body – the Cycle Training Reference Group; ?funding instructor training schemes and accrediting existing training schemes and centre

"Pupils at Oaklands Secondary School have been getting on their bikes in unprecedented numbers since it signed up to a travel plan. This was because of staff and parents’ concerns over increasing traffic around the school, pupils’ health and the contribution of the ‘school run’ to poor air quality and climate change. The school has seen over a 60% increase in cycling. A mountain biking club was established, which also contributed to Oaklands’ successful bid to become a sports college. City of York Council backed the travel plan by investing in secure cycle parking at the school and providing advanced cyclist training. Local cycle retailer, Cycle Heaven, provided pool bicycles for staff to use for short journeys during the day. When asked her views on the travel plan as a pupil, Hannah Stone, aged 13, said, “The new bike sheds are much safer and there is much more room.” Her classmate Ben Jameson added, “There are less cars than before so it is safer for everyone.”

The White paper was welcomed by Sustrans, who called on the Department for Transport and local authorities to take up the challenge of promoting healthy ways of travelling and put it at the heart of forthcoming Local Transport Plans.

Sustrans’ Chief Executive John Grimshaw said: “What we need is some ‘joined-up thinking’ – the Department for Transport has a huge part to play in the health of the nation. Local authorities currently setting their priorities for local transport spending must include complete and high-quality provision for walking and cycling. If they do not, then we believe the Department for Transport should not fund them.”

Stressing the health impacts of climate change and local pollution, Grimshaw said:”The White Paper rightly focuses on the promotion of physical activity but we must not overlook the impact of traffic pollution on respiratory health nor the growing risks, ranging from the migration of new diseases to the impact of extreme weather, caused by global climate change.

Sustrans believes that improved collaboration between the health and transport sectors can bring dividends in the wellbeing of the nation.

"There is a clear relationship between the state of walking and cycling in European countries and levels of obesity. Countries like Switzerland or the Netherlands, where the population cycle ten times as much as we do, have only two thirds the levels of overweight people," said Grimshaw.

Philip Insall, Director of Sustrans’ Active Travel Programme said:

“Many leading public health specialists have stressed the need to make our towns and cities more activity-friendly so that people can get the exercise they need as part of normal daily life. Walking and cycling are ideal ways to do this and our work with the National Cycle Network shows that the easier you make it for people to walk and cycle, the more they will do it. 126 million trips were made on the National Cycle Network last year; one third of those replaced a car journey. Two thirds of people using the Network claimed to be more active because it was there – surely this is the best way to tackle obesity and inactivity.”…/en?CONTENT_ID=4094550&chk=aN5Cor

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