I’m shortly heading off to tonight’s event, “can Manchester become a cycling city?” which I mentioned briefly yesterday.
There’s a related blog post here by the two University of Manchester researchers that are involved in the Manchester Cycling Lab project. I don’t want to summarise the detail, but it’s exciting to see data from sources like Strava being used to help find out how many bike riders are in Manchester and where they’re going.
Today's field research @McrCurryMile:counted 422 cyclists 8-10am incl.@TheSpokesMCR biking to #UMBUG1000!See u there! pic.twitter.com/rdBXMbg5Gu
— ManchesterCyclingLab (@McrCyclingLab) April 3, 2014
For the first time, it seems there’s real data and analysis going on. The question is whether policy will be changed as a result of the outcomes. We already know that politicians don’t always make policy based on evidence, because that’s not always politically expedient. However, with real, measurable data behind the arguments for cycling, it will be much harder to ignore.
Just today, the All Party Parliamentary Commission on Physical Activity said we need to “move more” and launched a campaign to get young people moving for just one hour a day. According to their research, “today’s kids are the least active in history”. The majority of 12-year-olds do not meet the minimum guidelines of 60 minutes of activity per day – pretty shocking given that physical inactivity on the whole is said to cost the UK £20bn per year and a bigger killer than smoking.
It’s not just kids though – it’s grown-ups too. The great thing about cycling is that it usually gives me 30 minutes of activity per day (the rest of which is spent sitting at a screen).
Still, that’s more than most people and it’s a really easy way to introduce some simple, low-impact activity into an already busy daily routine. Given the news articles I see about ‘congestion’ and physical arguments during the school run, surely we’ve got to realise that “active travel” like cycling is a potential solution and it has to start young.
Let’s hope that the Cycling Lab results are taken seriously if we want to bear out this vision.
Here’s the infographic from the Commission:
PS Talking of Strava, I amazingly shaved 66 seconds off my commute time this morning compared to yesterday:
…though I’m pretty sure a combination of low traffic and catching the “green wave” of traffic lights at times meant I maintained a higher average speed than usual.
Still, it’s nice to show that even a minimal amount of extra exertion can pay benefits. As ever, I rode safe and in “normal” clothing: a shirt, jumper, jeans and a hoody. Definitely no Lycra skinsuit…