Put Me Back On My Bike: The Future of Urban Transport

Professor Alistair Woodward is Head of the School of Population Health at the University of Auckland. He is interested in opportunities to re-shape urban transport systems to reduce pollution, increase energy efficiency and improve health. The bicycle appears to have much in its favour, so with colleagues, he is carrying out research into the health risks and benefits of cycling, trends in cycling and reasons for the large changes that have occurred, the trip to work, and public attitudes towards the urban cyclist.

Wednesday 26 May, 1pm
Small Lecture Theatre
23A Mein St



Some key points
Cycling has many health benefits.
Relatively risky.
More driving equals riskier cycling.
Not all pro-bike projects lead to more biking.

Alastair's colleague Michael Yee is studying media depiction's of cycling, and cyclists.
Despite the popularity of biking, cyclists are seen as marginal, irresponsible, risk-takers.

Alastair's colleague Sandar Tin Tin (?) is studying injury rates, comparing drivers, bikers, walkers, motorcyclists. The data indicates cycling is dangerous.
My comment is that we are not comparing apples with apples.
Cyclists are often young, untrained and male.
Drivers are older, trained, and both sexes.
This may explain much of the difference in injury rates.

Bikes in Schools got a good plug.

Ogilvie et al in BMJ 2004 (related research: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/334/7605/1204) showed that many pro-bike/walk projects failed or had no effect.

Alastair presented data that showed regions in NZ with lots of driving had higher cyclist injury rates, i.e Auckland, with 220 hours/year/
Nelson/Tasman/Marlbrough has less driving (170 hours) and much lower cyclist injury rates.
Conclusion: more traffic = higher risk to bikers.
Converse is also true.

This suggests that pro-biking projects will fail to realise the many benefits of cycling unless they are accompanied by measures that reduce the amount of driving.

For example, biking rates in London and NY have exploded not just because of pro-bike projects, but also because of congestion charging, high parking fees, and reallocating road space to bikers.