TfGM has officially announced the road safety measures that will be built across Greater Manchester as part of Tranche 1 of the Emergency Active Travel Fund (EATF). Many of the schemes, which will be funded by the £3.1m Tranche 1 budget, have previously been announced …
Author: Ian Pennington
First, a bit of context – I have been a doctor treating people with various diseases for around 40 years, and for over 30 years I have been a haematologist (blood specialist). Sadly, by the time people come to me, they may have severe disease, so in recent years my attention has turned from providing treatment to preventing people needing treatment.
Why Bother with Active Travel?
The main reason is for everyone to live longer, happier, and healthier lives.
Sounds a bit trite, but here’s more…
What diseases can be prevented?
I treat people with leukaemia and other blood cell cancers and also manage the consequences of thrombosis as well as other problems affecting the blood. It has become increasing clear to me that many of these problems are caused by either air pollution or inactivity, so walking or cycling reduce the risk, while driving a car gives a double whammy of risk.
Patients with leukaemia have often asked me why it has happened to them and I have usually replied in very general terms that it was likely to be related to the environment. But the more specific reason is that many leukaemias are caused by benzene and other hydrocarbons emitted in engine exhaust fumes, which damage DNA in blood stem cells, ultimately leading to leukaemia. Thrombosis risk, with consequent heart disease, stroke and dementia, increases with inactivity and obesity. Indeed, although there are sometimes many causes for disease, air pollution and inactivity play key roles in all the leading causes of ill health and death.
What can I do?
Personally, I cycle to work and try to avoid traffic fumes by choosing quieter routes and holding my breath when cycling past idling cars.
At a population level, active travel can do the same. As Greater Manchester’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Chris Boardman, eloquently said earlier this year in Parliament: “Pick a crisis and you’ll probably find cycling is a solution.”
So, to paraphrase Chris: if you pick a disease you’ll probably find cycling (or walking) is a solution.
What about COVID-19?
The current crisis has reminded us all that health really trumps any other consideration. So how is active travel relevant to fighting the virus?
- It is known that exercise improves immune function and hence helps to reduce the chance of infection and reduce the severity of the disease once infected.
- It is also clear that the greatest risk factors for dying from COVID at any given age are obesity and diabetes, which are once again diseases of inactivity (with the exception of type 1 diabetes).
- Also high on the list is prior lung disease or ischaemic heart disease – both of which are significantly worse because of air pollution, so once again active travel is part of the solution and therefore a high priority.
Active travel can be a powerful ally as we struggle for health in this age of COVID.
We must enable it now.
Image courtesy of TfGM.
Proposals for the latest Bee Network scheme have been published for consultation, with Beswick residents encouraged to get involved with shaping their neighbourhood for people using active travel modes such as walking, cycling or other mobility aids. Where is it? The project area, labelled ‘Safer …
Residents of Tameside are being encouraged by the council to apply for Quiet Streets in their neighbourhood. Tameside Council recently launched its Quiet Streets initiative to give residents the opportunity to enforce regular, temporary road closures to create more outside space for people living on …
More than 150 people lined up alongside the A6 in Levenshulme on Saturday 27 June to form ‘human cycle lanes’, with everyone observing social distancing rules and most wearing masks.
The aim was to call on Manchester City Council to address the lack of provision for walking and cycling in the Levenshulme area and beyond. This lack of provision is despite instruction by the Government to install safe, direct pop-up cycleways to enable key workers to continue to access workplaces, particularly those who do not own a car and who rely on the significantly restricted public transport options, which are running at only 10% capacity.
Participants clapped and rang their bicycle bells to draw attention to the protest, and made placards, banners and signs, including slogans like ‘I need my clean air fix on the A6’, ‘More bike lanes will fix the A6’, and ‘Please give me space’.
The protest was scheduled for 12pm to 12.30, but despite a few downpours of rain, everyone stayed for much longer, until 1pm and beyond.
Here is a collection of the videos and photographs by attendees to document the event:
Went down to Levenshulme to support the call for a safe active travel lane on #A6. Good turnout. May have to bring one to #Stockport too 😉 #safestreetssavelives https://t.co/j5fUlOuw2d pic.twitter.com/xy2SFtZhTq
— walkridehazelgrove (@walkridehg) June 27, 2020
We need travel solutions during Covid19 & beyond – safe 🚲 gives people without car an alternative to public transport & helps clean up air! pic.twitter.com/OmClcRybPV
— Helen Rimmer (@HelenJqRimmer) June 27, 2020
— Lorenza Casini (@naturallycyclin) June 27, 2020
Words by Jane Bedford McLaren and Jonathan Keenan. Image by Lucy Sykes. Riding Now that you have all the gear you need and the right bike for you, we thought some tips on riding might be helpful: Pedalling – this is most efficient if the …
Words by Jane Bedford McLaren and Jonathan Keenan. Image by Lucy Sykes. Purpose: There are loads of different bikes intended for different things and there is a lot to consider. This section of the blog series is the longest – we have tried to keep …