More cycling in Newcastle could mean £1.7m annual NHS savings

Mother and children on their bikes

The Bike Life report showed that 52% of people in Newcastle wanted to start cycling or cycle more

Cyclists on a traffic free path

The Bike Life report showed that 7% of Newcastle residents cycle to work

23 February 2018

Health, air quality and the local economy would all greatly benefit if everyone living in Newcastle who wants to cycle were able to get on their bikes for regular journeys, according to our new analysis of findings from the Bike Life reports.

The Newcastle Bike Life report which we published in November last year with Newcastle City Council, and is part of the UK’s biggest assessment of cycling in cities, showed that 52% of people would like to start cycling or could cycle more, but many were put off by poor safety on the roads and a lack of protected bicycle lanes.

In a breakfast event in Newcastle on Monday 26 February to showcase the findings of Bike Life, Rosslyn Colderley, our director for the North of England, will share the new calculations. We assessed the impact on health, air quality and the economy in Newcastle if everyone who said they would like to start cycling did so (and followed the same pattern in participation already shown by the Bike Life study of existing bike riders in Newcastle).

Bike Life 2017 found that 52% of people interviewed in Newcastle want to start cycling or cycle more, but most were put off by poor safety on the roads and lack of quality cycle infrastructure.

- Rosslyn Colderly, England Director, North of England, Sustrans
 

Overall there would be a saving of £1.7 million a year for the NHS, equivalent to the salaries of 73 nurses. There would also be an economic benefit of £69 million a year, and improvements to air quality by cutting 18,642kg of Nitrogen Oxides and 2,045kg of particulates per year.

Rosslyn Colderley, our Director for the North of England said:

“Bike Life 2017 found that 52% of people interviewed in Newcastle want to start cycling or cycle more, but most were put off by poor safety on the roads and lack of quality cycle infrastructure. This latest analysis clearly demonstrates the value to peoples’ health and the local economy if some or all of those people started travelling by bicycle. Now we need to focus on making our roads safer, more convenient and attractive to cycle, so people feel free to choose active travel.”

Bike Life revealed 74% of people in Newcastle want more protected bike routes to make cycling safer, even when this could mean less space for other road traffic. Only 40% of people think safety is good for cycling in Newcastle, while this drops to 29% for children cycling.

The report revealed that out of the 1,100 people randomly surveyed throughout the city region, 65% said more cycling would make their city a better place to live and work. Most residents interviewed thought that more space for cycling and walking or buses, as opposed to more space for cars, was the best way to keep their city moving, improve people’s health or air quality.

The findings of the Bike Life 2017 report show that there is a clear demand for better and safer cycling routes in our city and that this would encourage more people to get out on their bikes.

- Cllr Arlene Ainsley, Cabinet Member for Transport and Air Quality at Newcastle City Council
 

Even people who said they never ride a bike still overwhelmingly supported the provision of protected routes (69%), despite the fact it could mean less space for other road traffic. Bike Life 2017 calculated there were nine million trips each year made by bicycle in Newcastle and this could rise to 24 million if everyone who says they want to start cycling or cycle more got on a bike.

Newcastle was one of seven Bike Life reports for UK cities, which overwhelmingly indicate the demand for protected bike routes to make cycling safer. Out of 7,700 people surveyed in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Greater Manchester and Newcastle 78% of respondents said they wanted more segregated routes for cycling, even when this means less space for road traffic.

Cllr Arlene Ainsley, Cabinet Member for Transport and Air Quality at Newcastle City Council said:

“The findings of the Bike Life 2017 report show that there is a clear demand for better and safer cycling routes in our city and that this would encourage more people to get out on their bikes.

“This would have a significant impact on the city’s health and economy by reducing car journeys, cutting congestion and pollution, increasing physical activity and delivering savings to businesses through increased efficiency and shorter journey times.

“We have already achieved some significant improvements in cycling infrastructure in Newcastle, in both the city centre and in our communities.

“We know that there is still a lot of work to do to develop and extend safe, segregated cycling routes and we will continue, funding permitting, to carry out works to ensure that more people can have the opportunity and confidence to cycle.”

The Bike Life reports are inspired by the Copenhagen Bicycle Account, and are the UK’s second biennial reports to measure development in cycling, identify challenges and inform planning.

Find out more about the Bike Life Reports