THE BLOG
25/11/2013 06:33 GMT | Updated 25/01/2014 16:01 GMT

Get On Your Bike

A sixth cyclist has died in London in only two weeks. Cycling's popularity is propelled by British Tour de France winners - Chris Froome and Bradly Wiggins. It will only continue to get more popular as more people cycle to work, to get healthy and combat costs.

Cycle safety is now paramount.

Cars are indomitable on the road, with buses like terminators squeezing you to the limit of the road; the same buses billowing fumes in your face.

It is therefore not surprising that cyclist road deaths rose by 10% in 2012 but overall road deaths fell according to the Department for Transport. But, in the age of austerity, people risk it because it saves them money. Bikes are cheap to buy and maintain compared to the upkeep of a car, fuel costs or disproportionately high public transport costs (especially compared to the level of service). Bikes, through Cyclescheme, can be bought through an employer tax-free. That means more people are buying bikes; either second hand or new bikes, with a good range manufactured in this country.

There is a greater fear that the risks put off more women than men. Becky James, double cycling world champion states that while British women elite cyclists are some of the best in the world, ordinary women do not 'want to risk their lives' on the roads. British cycling wants a million more women cycling by 2020 and the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group wants 25% of journeys completed by bike, by 2050.

It is time we 'cyclise' the nation and introduce a Dutch style cycle network, so people feel they can cycle safely. I don't mean the pitiful attempts like London's cycle highway; a road with a blue strip down it, which in the most part is covered by cars that are sprawled out like lazy drunks. I mean a physical divide with continuous cycle lanes on every main British road.

Critics will claim that there is simply not the demand to spend money on such a scheme. That argument is easily refuted. It has been claimed that other Department for Transport backed cycling infrastructure projects have saved £20 for every £1 spent.

In my view people who use the new network should contribute to its maintenance by paying a cycle tax, similar to road tax. This is fairer than imposing a tax on new bicycles that would considerably lessen that market for and hit the manufacturing of bikes in the UK.

Clearly more people want to cycle, so a proper cycling network will allow more people to do so. And more people to do so safely. Some would consider this proposal 'anti-car', but this network would benefit motorists. If more people cycle to work, it means the roads are quieter. It means quicker and more efficient journeys for those who do drive, saving motorists and bikers money.

It will reinvigorate crippled transport networks, especially in London. A city that has still never come to terms with how big it is. Despite the titanic improvements to the tube network, it is vastly under capacity and always will be as the city struggles to maintain a one hundred and fifty year old system. The roads are more suited to horse and cart than buses. More people cycling would mean a need for fewer buses and tubes.

And yet, there is an even more important argument - health benefits. The NHS is over stretched at a time when we are becoming a nation of fatties. It is proving hard to change the nation's eating habits - even if the government has insisted on the removal of trans fats from processed food. More people cycling is more people exercising. It is likely the average person would cycle over a thousand miles a year if they had a return journey to work of only four miles.

Lastly, to finish where I started. It will save lives. It will save lives. It will save lives.