The value of pedal power

A recent feature in New Start magazine highlighted the problems that increasing volumes of journeys by car are causing to our neighbourhoods and profiled ways in which encouraging cycling can perhaps best address this (Driven to the Threshold, New Start, Apr 2009).

As someone who has a concern for the environmental impact that I create, and seek to measure how this and my other values are being realised and the outcomes that occur through a social accounting process, I’ve always measured the different modes of transport I use as a self-employed consultant type.

These have been posted to my website ( for the last 4 years, and I’m pleased to say that in answering the call to use cars less, I managed to use my bicycle for 18% of all journeys I made in the last year (for comparison 26% were by car, and the national average for bicycle journeys in the UK is a paltry 2%).

And this isn’t just about me feeling self-righteous, but wanting to show that having concern for the environment can be reconciled to the demands and structures of today’s economic environment.

I work all over the country, yet am able to make nearly 1 in 5 of all journeys by pedal power. And this value of enviromental concern has other benefits as well: in addition to the (yawn) benefits to my health (which everyone knows about), there are also financial benefits: most people know that the tax office offers a claimable expenses rate of 40p/mile for business travel when the journey is by car, but how many know that there’s a rate for bicycles too? At 20p/mile it’ll soon mean that I’ll be making money when cycling!


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