Cycling: It's a Critical Public Health Issue

As a nation we need to cycle more. Physical activity levels in the UK are generally declining, as people lead busy lives and find it difficult to find time for sport or exercise. This, combined with changing diets, has led to a large and rapid increase in the proportion of people classed as overweight or obese in this country.

In the UK about two thirds of men and women are now classed as overweight or obese. The level of obesity has tripled in the past 20 years, and is still rising. Obesity is rising among children too. In the past ten years it has doubled in six-year-olds (to 8.5 per cent) and trebled among 15-year-olds (to 15 per cent).

Countries with higher levels of cycling tend to have lower levels of obesity and overweight among children and adults. Yet there is potential for a change of some of car trips to cycling as 20% of all trips are under 1 mile, and about 25% of all car trips are under 2 miles in length.*

*Department for Transport (2005) National Statistics Bulletin, National Travel Survey: 2004, London: DfT


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