Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s Air Quality Commission has produced its report.
Quite rightly the importance of encouraging cycling features prominently. It recommendations include:
“More people to take up cycling to travel around the borough and beyond.”
I’m sure the Council will agree. The difficulty arises over what happens in practice.
While the Council has an annual Public Health budget of £22.7 million none of this goes on promoting cycling. The only money the Council spends on this comes from Transport for London.
Recently a request for modest funding to facilitate second hand bike markets was refused. Peddle My Wheels has hosted such events in Westminster and Lambeth. It includes a free service to check the conditions of the bikes and carry out repairs. There is also the chance to encourage attendance at cycle training events (which is already funded by TfL.) Typically half a dozen markets would take place a year around the borough in various school playgrounds. The cost to the Council would be around £4,000 with over 100 bikes being sold for adults as well as children.
The people who would benefit the most are those who can’t afford to buy a new bike. To buy a new kids bike might cost £100 or £150. A second hand one might be £10 or £20.
Holding these School Bike Markets each year would make the difference between hundreds of children and adults a year being able to cycle or not. It would also help reduce childhood obesity and avoid the cost to the Councils of piling out bikes onto landfill sites. The cost would be 0.02 per cent of the Public Health budget.
It’s all very well for the Council to appoint a Cycling Champion and to produce reports. But when it comes to doing anything practical the Council are hopeless.