Why Cycling is Good for Non-Cyclists

Cycling has nothing to do with non-cyclists, so why should they care about cycling issues such as traffic law and cycling infrastructure?  This statement might make sense to someone who doesn’t cycle and cannot see themselves ever wanting to cycle, but it is flawed.  Cycling has obvious individual benefits which have been discussed here and elsewhere.  What is often overlooked are the societal benefits which result from people making the decision to cycle, rather than using buses, trains, taxis, helicopters or cars.

The estimated annual economic benefits of cycling are approximately £540-640 (at the conservative end of the scale) per cyclist.  Most of this is due to the health benefits.  Whilst my health doesn’t directly benefit someone sat on a bus, it does mean that less of the tax fund is likely to be spent on maintaining me through my eventual demise.  This frees up more funds for better treatment of other people, or at least the same level of treatment paid for with slightly lower taxes. 

The greatest increases in cycling are apparently encouraged by urban off-road projects.  The Fallowfield Loop comes to mind, but I bet a similar route from Parrs Wood to the city centre (or anywhere suburban to the city centre) would be even better, by virtue of going somewhere which is useful to a larger number of people rather than just being near to the homes of a large number of people.

Additionally, non-cyclists benefit from the environmental credentials of cycling.  Locally, people benefit from reduced particulate emissions such as those from diesel cars, buses and to a lesser extent petrol cars.  Internationally, people benefit from the reduced emissions of greenhouse gases which all forms of car and public transport produce, although in differing per-passenger volumes.

Road-users such as bus passengers and motorists benefit from the reduced congestion cycling produces.  Whilst some cyclists would be on public transport if it was not for their bicycles, with car travel currently enjoying a modal share in the 85% region, its fair to assume that most bikes really are “One Less Car,” although I’d feel better with the slogan “One Car Fewer.” I’m sure my English teacher would be proud.  What that means is less road space taken up by vehicles designed for 4, 5 or even 7 people being used to cart one guy’s arse to and from work every day, and a better time on the road for all road users.

Walking enjoys most of the same wider social advantages provided by cycling, but loses feasibility for most people on longer journeys.  Most people I know are reluctant to walk even 3 km.  However most people do walk sometimes, at least a little.  Cycling benefits those on foot too by reducing the number of road vehicles which could kill you, or a loved one as a result of driver negligence (commonly referred to as “an accident”).

So if you don’t cycle, and don’t ever want to cycle make sure you still get behind initiatives which promote cycling, such as traffic law enforcement, lower speed limits, (non-crap) cycling infrastructure, increased use and length of driving bans for motoring offences and the continuation of positive measures such as the Cycle to Work scheme.  It will still benefit you in the end.

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4 thoughts on “Why Cycling is Good for Non-Cyclists

  1. A point well made.If riding home after a nightshift, coming over the M60 at Brinnington Road I can see 6 lanes of slow moving traffic – most of it being 1 person per car.Some days I am that person and it's horrid!Picking up the kids from nursery & school this afternoon was another laughing session. At the eldests new school there are fewer being ferried in cars, but still enough to clog the local roads up.And then there are those that are either too discourteous or too thick to let a family cross the road unless a bloke with a lollipop stands in front of them. Unbelievable :>%Rant over. Sorry!

  2. Outside the schools near here they have the lollipop people on pedestrian crossings. It's a sad state of affairs when people feel this kind of belt and braces approach is needed to stop people blowing through red at a pelican crossing outside s school where lids are trying to cross. I wonder if any schools have been brave enough to exclude cars from within a certain radius of the school. It seems unlikely after the media attention those two kids who cycled a mile to school got a few weeks back.

  3. the 'one more bike = one less car' is what I tried to convey to Mr. Tolhurst of Royal Mail (while in his opinion it's better one less bike = one more van!!!!), but he wasn't listening… apparently CTC are also holding a campaign to get Royal Mail to see sense… did you know? http://www.ctc.org.uk/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabID=5391 The problem I find so far is that drivers are envious of cyclists going past them while they are stuck in traffic and actually makes them dislike (I'd like to use the word 'hate' actually) cyclists even more… it's a lost battle…

  4. There is a big cultural issue, (partly encouraged by the media) that motorists are victimised by things like parking fines, speeding fines, the made up "road tax" and traffic light enforcement cameras. the oversight is obviously that if you were operating within the rules they wouldn't be a problem. A lot see cyclists as evading these "injustices" they suffer everyday, again not helped by the media, and whatever is different must be hated.A compulsory cycling component to the driving test would be welcome in making people avoid getting sucked into the "windscreen perspective" so completely.I will have a look at the CTC form later on and add my voice to the campaign (again – Tony Lloyd MP completely ignored my letter).

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