Like this site? Help us to make it better.

NICE comes out for active travel and 20mph limits

More activity will reduce early deaths & boost productivity

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says local authorities should do more to encourage cycling and walking to prevent premature deaths and to alleviate the over £6 billion annual loss of productivity from diseases caused by inactivity.

In a briefing aimed at councils, Tackling the causes of premature mortality, NICE lays out the actions that local authorities can take to reduce early death; to address lifestyle issues that lead to poor health; to improve access to services; and to prevent unintentional injuries.

One in every three people who dies in England is aged under 75, says NICE and two-thirds of these deaths are avoidable. Many of the direct causes of death, such as heart disease and cancer, follow long periods of bad health which is often caused by lifestyle factors.

Drawing on a wealth of NICE public health guidance recommendations, from smoking cessation, to physical activity, to detecting chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, the briefing supports local government in making changes needed to improve the health of local people, and saving lives.

NICE says local authorities should: "Create, protect and manage safe spaces for physical activity and plan local facilities and services to ensure they are accessible on foot or by bicycle. This includes reviewing local bye laws that may discourage physical activity and using pricing and educational initiatives."

The briefing also see NICE weigh in to the contentious issue of 20mph speed limits, with a position that's strongly in favour. It says: "Implementing 20 mph zones, with priority given to protecting children and young people in disadvantaged areas who face the greatest risk, could lead to a 100% return on investment in the first 12 months."

As well as the heath and well-being benefits of more activity, NICE says the economic cost of inactivity is huge: "The costs of lost productivity to the wider economy in England due to physical inactivity have been estimated at around £5.5 billion per year from sickness absence and £1 billion per year from people of working age dying prematurely."

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive at NICE said: “Taking early action to tackle issues such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and obesity could save about 103,000 people from dying early each year in England.  This new briefing pulls together recommendations from a wide range of NICE guidance to help local government use effective practical ways to address the direct causes of illness and early death."

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

Latest Comments