A call to encourage cycling

LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

THANK you for publishing Tony Smith’s thoughtful letter about climate change.

Tony sums up very well the serious situation we now face.

He points to the need for substantial changes to be made in energy generation and use, and the attendant dangerous consequences that will flow if we do not act.

There is no sustainable future in relying on thermal coal or any notion that it will be good for us.

Evidently, India will not look to importing thermal coal after about the end of 2017.

It seems India is waking up to the need to think “green energy”

It seems that there are things ordinary folk can do.

I have written to Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Premier Daniel Andrews and Wellington Shire about an idea I call ‘On Yer Bike’.

The concept is that the Federal Government should take a lead to push a nationally focussed transition to bikes as a preferred means of personal, short to medium distance wheeled transport.

Mr Turnbull has indicated he thinks the idea has some merit and will pass it on to colleagues.

I note our Prime Minister is a keen cyclist.

Other feedback will be of interest.

Such a program, if it were to get up, could contribute meaningfully to reducing our carbon footprint and, contemporaneously, reduce the concerning rise in obesity that now affects all age groups.

Obesity is a key contributor to heart disease and diabetes, two major killers within our communities.

If a national ‘On Yer Bike’ initiative were to gain traction, Sale could be considered as the pilot site.

I think there are good self-evident reasons why Sale would be an ideal pilot location.

In making this suggestion, I am not seeking in any way to cut across those worthwhile bike related initiatives in place or under way.

Rather, a nationally focussed approach should complement, help and support existing like-minded programs and proposals.

Perhaps it’s a matter of thinking nationally, and acting locally.

In the Netherlands, where cyclists are encouraged and well catered for, apparently about 56 per cent of the population use a bike on any given day.

And one does not see too many large girths.

Among other places, cyclists are also well catered for in Denmark, Sweden, parts of France and Germany.

We could learn much from those experiences, although any developments here would need to take account of particular Australian circumstances and needs.

Nevertheless, imagine an Australia that, by 2020, had not less than 30 per cent of us on a bike at least three times per week.

Our carbon footprint would reduce and so would the national girth.

Significant falls in obesity rates would help drive down instances of heart disease and diabetes.

Health system expenditures could start to reduce.

And, for those who believe government budget deficits are the devil’s work there could be a more rapid trend towards surpluses.

Finally, if ‘On Yer Bike’ or similar did get legs, it might help just a little towards a sustainable, worthwhile physical and social environment for us all, and those who follow us.