Brent

London’s Boroughs are at the forefront of promoting and supporting cycling in the capital. We asked Brent Council’s Sustainable Transport Officer, Mike Evans, to tell us why he cycles and what initiatives are out there for helping others to get on their bikes.

Why do I cycle? For me cycling is a great, cheap, convenient and healthy way to get around London. Many of you might think that there are good reasons why you don’t travel by bike. Maybe you simply don’t have a bike or the confidence to cycle, or you’re worried about accidents, bad weather, arriving at work sweaty or a lack of workplace facilities.

I would say give cycling a try before you make up your mind. Buy or borrow a bike, or bring your bike out from the shed, get it looked over to check it is roadworthy, and then bike it. If you don’t already have much time for exercise in your daily routine, cycling to work is a great way to improve your health. After a few weeks of active commuting you will immediately notice the benefits.

Over the last few years there has been a wealth of research into the health and lifestyle benefits of active travel – cycling in particular. Those who cycle to work report improvements in alertness, productivity, well-being and fitness. Then there is the lower mortality rate associated with cyclists, as well as a reduced propensity to a host of ailments including obesity, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and respiratory disorders. In financial terms the cost of health interventions to address inactivity in the population is much more than the cost associated with road traffic collisions.

Cycling, in short, is good for everyone including the public purse. That’s why the Chief Medical Officer has stated that physical activity is the best buy in public health, and the Government's ‘Active Travel Strategy’, published by the Department for Health and the Department for Transport, emphasises that cycling can improve health, increase productivity, and promote social interaction and well-being.Moreover, by reducing unnecessary car journeys, promoting cycling also helps to create a healthier and greener environment for everyone.

Currently about 2% of all journeys in London are made by bike. That’s double the figure it was in 2000, but government targets are to increase the share to 5% by 2015. Of course, we’d like to see it rise even beyond this. The Chief Medical Officer has stated that cycling rates should increase eight-fold.

Brent Council is working alongside Brent PCT, the North West London Hospitals NHS Trust and Transport for London in promoting cycling. Initiatives include:

  • Free cycle training available for groups and organisations.
  • Cycle stands available to organisations free of charge.
  • Regular events held throughout the year, where trained bike mechanics will give your bike a free service.
  • Cycling Sessions organised by Brent Council’s Sports Service during the school holidays – for more information see www.brent.gov.uk/sports.
  • More cycle parking provided at key town centres and stations.
  • Brent Council signing up with Transport for London to become a ‘Biking Borough’, and reviewing its strategy for supporting those who want to cycle through infrastructure improvements, training programmes and cycle projects.

Organisations can promote cycling by adopting a green travel plan – a programme of support and funding for encouraging employees and visitors to cycle more. Keep an eye out for Workplace Cycle Challenge and Bike Week events in your area during June.

If you would like to know more about the support on offer, please email transportation@brent.gov.uk or ring 020 8937 5179.

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