About 34,000 incidences of type 2 diabetes, stroke, breast cancer and depression would be prevented in seven key cities between 2017 and 2040, if cycling increased at the same rate as in London since the millennium, according to analysis from Sustrans, the walking and cycling charity.

Cycling levels in London have more than doubled since 2000 but have remained largely static across the UK, where public transport is worse and car culture reigns.

Just 34% of men and 42% of women do 150 minutes of physical activity each week, which is the minimum amount recommended by England’s chief medical officer.

Physical inactivity costs the NHS about 1bn each year, rising to some 7.4bn each year when costs to wider society are included.

The Sustrans report, “Transforming Cities: The potential of everyday cycling”, estimates that more than 1bn cycling trips would take place in 2040 in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Greater Manchester and Newcastle if those cities followed London’s lead.






Charles Feaver