Growing levels of obesity amongst the population, including children, are well documented. The cause of this epidemic is complex and multi-faceted – but is linked to lifestyle changes over the last 50 years. Amongst the changes is the fall in the amount of exercise we and our children take. The current recommendation is that 5 -18 years take at least 60 minutes of “moderate” to “vigorous” physical activity each day. Yet less than one third of children achieve this.*
the low down
Life Cycle’s mission is to support more individuals to get cycling and to help them overcome the barriers that are preventing them from getting going. As an organisation, one of the issues that we find hardest to advise on is the issue of where to park your bike at home. Those who live in flats, houses on narrow terraced streets (which is half of Bristol), or who share accommodation are often prevented from cycling by virtue of having nowhere to store a bike in their home.
I think it would be fair to say that buses and cyclists are not normally the best of friends. Cyclists tend to have a dim view of bus drivers, and are quick to criticise them for the way they drive, particularly overtaking too close and pulling in just in front of cyclists. Bus drivers likewise don’t tend to be that keen on cyclists.
The cold weather on my way to work this morning made me cycle more cautiously than usual. But there were plenty of people bombing past me at full speed - so it made me wonder if I was being over cautious, or if they were chancing it? By far the greatest cause of injury to cyclists is from what are called non-collision incidents. These are incidents that result from skids and slips or collisions that don’t involve another vehicle. They often occur during poor weather as a result of cycling too fast and not allowing enough braking time.
2015 in Bristol looks set to be different from other years. As we welcome in the New Year, Bristol is about to be launched as Green Capital of Europe. This means that we will have a chance to show other European countries all the great stuff that is going on in Bristol to encourage and support sustainable lifestyles, but more importantly it will give organisations like Life Cycle a platform to promote their activities - and for Life Cycle that means we can support even more people in Bristol to start and continue cycling.
I am really pleased to present Life Cycle’s Impact Report for 2013/14. We started putting these reports together three years ago, in order to demonstrate the impact of the work we are doing, and are particularly pleased to be able to show year on year increases in the numbers of people getting involved in our services and taking up cycling. The report is only a snapshot into our work, but designed to show that we are having an impact and making a difference to people’s lives.
Everyone knows that cycling is good for your physical health. It’s obvious really! People who exercise regularly are fitter, healthier and have greatly reduced risks of a number of major diseases including coronary heart disease and other serious health conditions.
July saw the launch of Bristol City Council’s much awaited Cycling Strategy, which outlines how far cycling in the city has come in the past few years, as well as setting out the Council’s vision for cycling in in the future.
Cycling is on the increase in Bristol, and based on the age range of people who have cycle training, I’d hazard a guess that growth is greatest amongst 30 - 40 year olds. This is of course fantastic, but if we’re really going to transition towards Dutch levels of mass cycling, it’s the next generation that needs the greatest boost. Whilst around 2,000 children aged 10 – 11 receive cycle training in Bristol each year, the numbers who actually go on to cycle regularly are much lower.
Fear of traffic is one of the main reasons people tell us they don’t cycle; and particularly fear of larger vehicles such as buses, vans and lorries.