How to save the world by bicycle

I have a solution for all of society’s ills. It involves getting fat arses out of cars and onto bicycles.

If I were Prime Minister, I’d redirect our colossal spending on roads and motorways to spending on cycling infrastructure instead. When I say cycling infrastructure, I don’t mean painted lines on roads or share-and-care footpaths, but rather, proper, separated cycle paths, Copenhagen-style. These cycle paths would not be shared with cars or pedestrians but instead be for the sole use of cyclists. I expect there’d even be money left over for other things like health and education, such is the huge amount we spend on cars and maintaining the fat arses in our community.

How will this solve all our problems you ask?

* OBESITY – Inactivity makes you fat. Cycling reduces inactivity and aids weight-loss.

* TRAFFIC – Replacing trips by car with trips by bicycle reduces traffic. It may even eliminate it altogether.

* POLLUTION – Cars emit hazardous gases which once released, can be inhaled and delivered to each of our internal organs. These gases include: carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, suphur dioxide, benzene, formaldehyde, polycyclic hydrocarbons and lead. Cycling is emission-free.

* CURRENT ACCOUNT DEFICIT – New Zealand has not seen a current account surplus since 1973. For the September 2012 year, the deficit was $9.9 billion, an increase of over $1billion from the previous year. This was largely due to cars and oil. Replacing trips by car with trips by bike reduces our dependence on foreign oil.

* GLOBAL WARMING – Cars emit greenhouse gases which are a contributing factor in global warming. Cycling does not emit any greenhouse gases.

* MENTAL HEALTH – Cycling has been shown to improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and alleviate depression. Sitting in a car does none of these.

* HEALTH – Inactivity is reportedly responsible for more deaths than is smoking. Cycling is healthful physical activity.

* ECONOMY – The city of Sydney commissioned independent economic research to quantify the benefits of cycling infrastructure. They found that for every $1 spent, $3.88 was returned to the community.

* POVERTY – The last time I looked, the cost of petrol in New Zealand was $2.08 per litre for octane 91. Cycling is free. People who replace car trips with cycle trips will have the money they would have otherwise spent on petrol available to spend on other things.

*JOBS – Investing in cycling infrastructure will create jobs associated with the building of that infrastructure as well as boosting business in the area of sale and repair of bicycles and all the associated bicycle paraphernalia – helmets, lights, cargo carriers, panniers, baskets etc.

Sound a little too simplistic? I encourage you to read the research and debunk my suggestion. I welcome the debate because from where I’m sitting, it looks like a no-brainer.