There has been a lot of negative reporting about cycling in London recently, due to some tragic road accidents involving cyclists. Inevitably, campaign groups have seized upon the incidents, demanding safer street layouts for bikes.
I’ve got nothing against safer streets, but I’m not sure about the helpfulness of either the reports or the campaigners’ (some being highly paid professional marketers) outraged responses.
If every road casualty – involving drivers, passengers or pedestrians – were remarked upon similarly in the media, there would be no space for any other news or views. It seems to me that exceptionalism when it comes cycling accidents is simply sensationalism, pandering to Joe Public’s neurotic fear of riding a bicycle.
Needless to say, such provocation is especially counterproductive when it comes from cycling campaigners themselves. I am reminded of this every time I see one of those white ‘ghost bikes’ chained to railings beside the road where a cycling fatality has occurred. Surely these protests backfire, by reinforcing the majority’s spurious view that cycling is too dangerous. In any case, why not create a shrine for every other road casualty?
And why stop there? What about a shrine on every spot where a heart attack or stroke victim fell? This, indeed, would presumably be more helpful to the cycling cause, since it would remind people about the importance of having a healthy lifestyle and getting plenty of exercise.
Studies have shown that cycling protects against heart disease, stroke, obesity, dementia, diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers, and supports healthy bones, muscles, joints and even sleep patterns. If only facts like these were drummed into the public consciousness, day in, day out, rather than the depressing inevitability of a tiny handful of devastating cycling accidents.
This week I came across a wonderful new organization which is seeking to promote cycling’s health benefits. Bike 4 Cancer was set up by a group of keen cyclists who have all lost a family member or close friend to cancer. In addition to supporting research into the positive effects of exercise on health, this charity also provides days out and respite breaks for British families living with cancer (some of which are cycling related) and makes grants to palliative care centres.
All in all, inspiring and essential work. So I was more than happy to help promote a special event being run by Bike 4 Cancer. They are calling for people from all over London and the South-East to join them on Sunday the 8th of September 2013 for a London to Brighton bike ride.
The 56 mile ride starts in Clapham Common and travels through Mitcham, Carshalton, Chipstead, Banstead and Haywards Heath before finishing opposite Brighton Pier. Over 5,000 cyclists are expected to take part.
The route has been specifically designed to take cyclists through some of the most beautiful countryside in the South of England. Before reaching Brighton, riders will tackle the infamous Ditchling Beacon – the highest point in the County of East Sussex at 814 feet above sea level!
Andy Nicholson, Director of Services at Bike 4 Cancer said “The London to Brighton bike ride is one of the classic charity challenges in the UK. This ride is open to all riders over the age of 16 and is perfect for aspiring cyclists or even hardened racers”.
He continued, “We’re encouraging people from all over London and the South-East to get on their bikes 4 cancer. So why not get a group of friends or work colleagues together and join in the fun. We can even help with bike hire and transport back from Brighton after the ride”.
Andy concluded, “Given the emerging evidence that exercise can help us to reduce our chances of contracting some of the most common forms of cancer, this charity bike ride is a great opportunity to get active. You’ll also be helping people who are living with cancer in the UK now”.
A £35 registration fee applies which includes a buffet lunch and breakdown assistance. Everyone who completes the ride will receive a medal. In addition to the entry fee, riders are asked to raise a minimum sponsorship fund of £100.
To enter Bike 4 Cancer’s London to Brighton bike ride, simply visit: http://www.bike4cancer.org/london-to-brighton-bike-ride-2013