Following on from their much accoladed report of Fracking, the leftie medic group MEDACT have published a report on the dangers of cycling. I have obtained a leaked hard copy. The web version will be available on Thermidor 13 this year.( Medact have decided to use the French revolutionary calendar.)
Perhaps it is best that I summarise the health risks of cycling according to this report;
1. Numbnut syndrome. This is caused by sitting for long periods on what can only be described as a horizontal tube. It has the effect of squashing a man’s tackle and as well as the immediate effect of an embarrassing numbness, it can also cause erectile dysfunction and loss of sperm count. However one medic did see this as an advantage as a form of population control.
2. neck and spinal problems
3. Wrist and hand problems
4. Knee problems
5. Traffic pollution
6. agricultural pollution – VOCs from silageing etc.
7. Danger of loss of electrolytes in summer
8. Danger of too much sugar and electrolytes in power drinks (whether manufactured or (worse) homemade).
9. Danger of heart attacks on steep hills (especially for over-50s)
On top of that are the inherent physical dangers
1. Minor crashes can result in extensive grazing allowing infection by bacteria
2. Dangers of crashing catastrophically by hitting gravel, potholes or spilled diesel.
3. very serious risk from other road users as cyclists are very vulnerable and liable to suffer death or life-changing injuries in a collision
All these add up to cycling being highly dangerous and laible to shorten lives or give rise to various serious ailments. The authors say that it cannot be properly regulated to make it safe. However they did make several recommendations, which could mitigate riskes for those who with to cycle. Some of these are;
1.The minimum age for cycling should be 25.
2. The maximum age should be 50.
3. All cyclists must learn to cycle in a designated place and pass a stringent test
4.Cycles must have speed governors limiting the speed to 10 mph.
5. All cyclists must wear a helmet and arm and leg guards
6. Cyclists may only use designated cycle paths.
On the publication of the report, presentations will be given throughout Britain and grassroots pressure will be put on leftie councillors to make this mandatory in each council area. They argued that due to the extreme right-wing, libertarian, and totalitarian nature of the present government, it will not be possible to persuade Westminster to implement the much needed safety measures.
Maybe a bit of a spoof, but I guarantee most members of Medact would reject what I suggest above and regard the recent blog by Justin Varney on the Public Health England blog, which I give below, as excellent as I do.
Much of what Varney writes has been expressed elsewhere in various reports but it is a good summary of the health benefits of cycling. However Medact do not have a high regard for the PHE report on the health implications of fracking as a tweet has just said (9pm 18/6/15) at the Preston meeting “David McCoy says that Public Health England need to do a proper impact assessment”.
Now either read the blog on cycling (and take it up 🙂 ) or scroll to the end of it when I shall consider Medact and PHE on Fracking and health.
Pedalling your way to better health
Cycling is not just great for your health – travelling to work on your bike can mean a faster, less stressful and more efficient daily commute.
This week is Bike Week in the UK and it’s a great opportunity to take part in local events that help you get back on the bike and get pedalling.
Supporting more people to cycle safely to work is a key component of getting everybody active every day. Modelling done in 2012 estimated that a 10% increase in cycling and walking in urban centres in England would generate a cost saving to the NHS alone of over £15 million within 3 years, and the savings over 20 years were modelled at over £1 billion.
The benefits of being active every day have positive impact on knee, hip and back pain, depression, type 2 diabetes, cardio-vascular disease as well as breast, bowel and colon cancer. There is specific evidence showing that cycling can be a great way to reduce knee and hip pain, and could potentially help to avoid needing a hip replacement.
Creating safer cycling routes requires action at several levels of the public health system – a joined up approach is essential. The economic modelling from the Cycling Cities project suggested that for every £1 spent there was a return of between £2.6-3.50.
Local authorities working with Local Enterprise Partnerships should be prioritising cycling and walking in transport infrastructure and street space design. The recent survey by the LGA found that over three quarters of the local authorities surveyed had a walking and cycling strategy to promote local action and over half had updated the cycling components within the last two years.
The National Cycling Network is a series of traffic-free paths and quiet, on-road cycling and walking routes that connect to every major town and city. In its 20th year, over 4.8 million people used the network to walk or cycle in 2013 and over a quarter of journeys were daily commutes.
Cities like London are taking action to make routes even safer for cyclists, restructuring major roads to separate cyclists from traffic and reformatting complex intersections to make them safer for pedestrians, cyclists and cars.
Partnerships between local authorities, schools, charities and workplaces can support more children and adults to learn to ride bikes safely, as well as providing secure cycle parking, showers, changing and drying facilities, so that the cycle to work doesn’t mean a sweaty day in the office.
The national Cycle to Work Scheme enables organisation’s employees to get bikes and accessories tax-free. Across the country organisations like CTC and Sustrans are offering cycling training and skills courses, support for local employers and public sector partnerships to turn the evidence base into action.
Organisations like British Schools Cycling Association and British Cycling are working with schools across England so that cycling to school, work and in those day to day short trips becomes a habit of a lifetime. While the partnership between Sky and British Cycling has brought Sky Rides to communities across England.
Cycling is something that can be done by almost everyone
And cycling is something that can be done by almost everyone. I was really inspired last year by Wheels for Wellbeing, who were at the launch of Everybody Active Every Day. Wheels for Wellbeing is a charity run by and for disabled people who have discovered that cycling is a fantastic way to keep fit and mobile, build confidence and have fun.
Cycling can be easier than walking for many people with disabilities, and a useful form of everyday transport. Their director Isabelle Clement whizzes around London between meetings in her wheelchair bike, really demonstrating that cycling commuting is possible for everyone.
In my own team we have worked to practice what we preach, supporting two staff members last year to learn to ride a bike for the first time and we now share a team bike for nipping between meetings in central London.
This week seems as good a time as any to get on your bike!
At the end of March MEDACT launched ther report Health and Fracking http://www.medact.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/medact_fracking-report_WEB3.pdf at the end of March, which claimed to report the grave health risks of fracking. This can be seen in scaremongering posters on the Fylde.
It has had a very mixed reaction. It has been welcome by those opposed to fracking and severely questioned by others. As I write (18/6/15) it is being received with adulation in Preston in advance of the council meetings to decide Cuadrilla’s fate. Many fracktivists have a copy to wave!
The authors claim that the PHE report published in October 2013 is severely flawed. You can read this on https://www.gov.uk/government/news/shale-gas-extraction-emissions-are-a-low-risk-to-public-health Its conclusions are summarised ;
“Dr John Harrison, Director of PHE’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, said:
The currently available evidence indicates that the potential risks to public health from exposure to emissions associated with the shale gas extraction process are low if operations are properly run and regulated.
Where potential risks have been identified in other countries, the reported problems are typically due to operational failure.
Good on-site management and appropriate regulation of all aspects of exploratory drilling, gas capture as well as the use and storage of fracking fluid is essential to minimise the risks to the environment and health.”
Medact reject the conclusions PHE came to but are, in fact, themselves challenged from many quarters and not only by right wing political comment
UKOOG were quick off the mark
and more recent Dr James Verdon of Bristol University has added his two-penny worth.
Here it is in full
Medact Report Gets the Treatment it Deserves
“The Medact report has not produced new epidemiological research but has reviewed published literature and has requested short papers from relevant experts in particular subject areas. It has also interviewed academics and experts.”
“Unfortunately, one of the contributors (contributing to three of the report’s six chapters – chapters 2, 4 and 5) has led a high profile campaign in the Fylde related to shale gas. Another contributor to the report (chapter 3) has previously expressed firm views on shale gas and has objected to this application. This has led to questions from some quarters about the report’s objectivity.”
“In light of these uncertainties it is not clear how much weight the County Council should attach to the report.”
In other words, it’s bunkum, and it’s been given the treatment it deserves. More generally, on public health in general the Development Control Committee found that:
“While much research exists, and is growing in volume each year, it is difficult to gain an objective view of the veracity of the research. Anti-fracking campaigners frequently point to studies that indicate increased health risks (e.g. elevated risks of cancer or birth defects) as a result of shale gas activity in North America. Conversely, pro-fracking campaigners point to numerous methodological flaws in the research. It is also difficult to translate the findings of research from North America into the UK environment. Operating and regulatory practices are very different.”
“PHE highlight significant methodological flaws in the research that has been cited to the County Council.”
“Moreover, one study frequently cited by objectors (McKenzie, 2014) has been publically criticised by the Chief Medical Officer and Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in the USA as follows: “we disagree with many of the specific associations with the occurrence of birth defects noted within the study. Therefore, a reader of the study could easily be misled to become overly concerned.””
“PHE state that direct application of the North American research to the UK situation is impossible because of the wide differences between the two countries.”
And they conclude that (my emphases):
“Nevertheless, from the modelling, audit checks and sensitivity analysis conducted by the Environment Agency it is expected there will be no exceedance of standards that protect public health. Public Health England is satisfied the currently available evidence indicates that the potential risks to public health from exposure to the emissions associated with such extraction are low if the operations are properly run and regulated.”
To get on my bike again, Medact are very selective on what science they will accept. Granted that they are Green and leftwing we can assume that they would approve of any support for cycling as the greenest and healthiest form of transport (and my passion https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/lancashire-cycling-2014/ ) and I cannot see that they would object to any part of the PHE blog on cycling. Why then do the object to PHE’s more thorough work on the health implications of fracking?
I suggest one thing;
A total adherence to an ideology rather than actual health issues
I am off on my bike!