GIVEN that Britain is suffering an obesity epidemic; air pollution being linked to some 40,000 premature deaths a year; our NHS crisis; congestion which is promising to get worse; low incomes and the rising cost of living, and global warming, anything that encourages people to take up cycling has to be welcomed.

Spending £150,000 to improve cycling facilities across Radcliffe, (Wheely great decision to give cycling a push, Radcliffe Times, November 2), sounds good, but with the cost of obesity reportedly being ‘greater than war, violence and terrorism', and the Centre for Economics and Business Research having estimated that congestion will cost the UK economy more than £300 billion over the next 16 years, a ‘handful’ of people getting on bicycles is hardly going to achieve a great deal.

The reality of safe cycle routes 'avoiding busy roads' is, they don’t get people anywhere fast, and when people have busy lives and children, or perhaps with elderly parents/disabled family who need caring for, need to cycle to get to work, it’s just as essential for them to get from A to B as fast as possible, as it is for car drivers.

A problem with so-called safe cycle routes is they are shared with pedestrians and dog walkers, and with some dog walkers believing they have the right to walk their dogs on extended leads, and indeed off the lead, there is potential for accidents and altercations.

For the first 10 years of my working live, I couldn’t afford to drive, and with my workplace some 12 miles away, (off bus routes), in Trafford Park, taking two hours by bus, and me being able to cycle at 30mph, and get there in 30 to 35 minutes, my bicycle not only saved me a huge amount of time, it saved me a huge amount of money.

In the Third World it’s said that, “a bicycle is the first step out of poverty.”

Today, millions of people cycle to work because of low incomes; because public transport takes too long, or simply doesn’t service their journey. Also, because of the fear of traffic, millions who would like to cycle to work don’t.

The government claims that, over the past 10 years, several million children have been trained through Bikeability, so why do so few of Radcliffe’s children — one in 1,000 maybe — cycle to school?

It’s a fact that a significant number of drivers don’t like cyclists: “they don’t pay road tax” and “jump red lights” being at the top of the hate list.

A better way to get more people cycling would be to make Bikeability an integral part both of the driving test, and speed awareness courses, so that all drivers can learn how terrifying cycling can be.

No matter how experienced a cyclist is, they never stop learning, and with so many drivers exceeding speed limits, and using mobile phones, they can never afford to stop learning.

Allan Ramsay