I was really taken by two contrasting, but complementary pieces of news coverage yesterday. One of them was on MSN news online about the launch of the new “fat map” for the UK pointing out where the highest levels of obesity across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland occur. (I was intrigued as to why the Shetlands should feature so highly – any ideas from the Islands?).
As an aside I was also amused by a quote from a Senior Project Manager at Doctor Foster Research who, with a poker face, talking about obesity was still able to say that there does seem to be a “growing” problem in some areas. Oh well – some people just don’t do irony!
The other piece was an article in the Guardian by Claire Armitstead discussing the contrasting and probably conflicting need to invest in sports facilities for cycling (following our results in the Olympics) compared with Philip Insall – the self styled bike fixer general of charity Sustrans who, quite rightly, is pitching for greater investment in general cycling facilities and infrastructure. What sensible parent is going to allow their kid onto the road without the appropriate cycle lane and associated safety features? This is one parent who won’t be. Regardless of whether it is to do with congestion charging, obesity levels rising, or sporting excellence in Beijing – what is vital is that we understand cycling could, should and is for everyone. As Insall is quoted as saying “we have more obese children and much lower levels of daily cycling than Germany with its two cycling medals and Sweden and Switzerland who did not even feature on the medal board in Beijing. The difference being, of course, is that they invest five to ten times the amount of money in sustainable transport compared to the UK”. There is a lesson there, both for those who want to be off the “fat map” and those on two wheels.
(Credit: Chris Hill)
Without the proper infrastructure investment, cycling will remain a potentially hazardous method of travel.