Quick, what’s a really dangerous way to get around town?
If you answered “cycling” you wouldn’t be unlike the people alluded to throughout this post from The Guardian. The objective of the post is to emphasize there there are risks and dangers associated with every activity — even if they’re “invisible” as a result of being normal — including sitting around doing nothing. Among other things, the post includes this quote from Dr. Harry Rutter:
All activities carry a risk. For some reason there seems to be strong focus on the risk of injury associated with cycling. Clearly, when deaths do takes place that’s tragic, and we need to do all we can to avoid them. But I think there is a perception that cycling is much more dangerous than it really is.
This focus on the dangers of cycling is something to do with the visibility of them, and the attention it’s given. What we don’t notice is that if you were to spend an hour a day riding a bike rather than being sedentary and driving a car there’s a cost to that sedentary time. It’s silent, it doesn’t get noticed. What we’re talking about here is shifting the balance from that invisible danger of sitting still towards the positive health benefits of cycling.
The post also calls on walking and cycling to “become the norm for short trips” as a way to improve health and reduce obesity.
The point here is that sitting around — on a couch or in a car — carries significant health risks, obesity and associated diseases being chief among them. And though the post sort of leaves it at that, I’ll add that those health risks clearly come with economic costs as well. These facts are rarely (if ever) factored into transportation planning — when was the last time a traffic engineer wondered how much a new road would increase obesity? — but they’re creating serious problems nonetheless.