Excellent Clinical Negligence and Cycling

In their new ‘Walking and Cycling’ report, published yesterday, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) have offered their tuppence-worth (a rather large understatement) when it comes to cycling policy.

I’m not sure how useful these epic government-sponsored reports are. They seem to benefit the people who are paid to write them more than anyone else.

And you’ve got to wade through an extraordinary amount of triteness. ‘Walking and cycling are distinct activities’ was one of my favourite examples in the NICE report.

In the end, there’s nothing new in it. The following statement says it all:

“The action needed to increase levels of walking and cycling will vary according to people's local and personal circumstances. For instance, it will differ according to whether someone lives or works in an urban or rural area, the local traffic conditions and their perceptions of safety.”

So maybe the bureaucrats should stop writing these reports and instead give back money to local communities and let them solve their own problems, more efficiently and sensibly.

And then maybe the report writers could focus, ironically, on getting London’s local affairs in order. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, London being a metropolis means that it has distinct infrastructure needs when it comes to cycling. Due to prohibitive levels of heavy traffic on the city's major transport arteries, regular Londoners need an alternative way of ensuring they can cycle from A to B safely.

Simon Parker’s London Cycle Map, with its long straight coloured routes, criss-crossing the capital in all directions, would provide this. All we need to do is put dots of coloured paint along the mostly quieter roads comprising Parker’s map.

Maybe, indeed, all those report writers should get out there with paint brushes and stop wasting people’s money on ineffectual verbiage.

Although, credit where credit’s due, another NICE report managed to briefly mention something useful on the topic of ‘built or natural environments’ (a topic which is itself rather bizarre: is this what the National Health Service should be doing with taxpayers’ money? Would you be happy if a private health care provider charged a premium so they could offer you advice on cycling infrastructure?). The report at least mentions the word ‘network’ twice – albeit amid 11,000 other words.

George Orwell must be smiling wryly out there somewhere.

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