This post was originally featured on TheCityFix Brasil by guest contributor, Simon Robinson.
Bradley Wiggins, winner of this year’s Tour de France, decimated the field this summer with his win in the time trial at Hampton Court Palace, and this was followed up with a bag of gold medals at the velodrome at the 2012 Olympics. This enthusiasm for cycling is tangible outside of Hampton Court and the 2 weeks that were the 30th Olympiad.
A recent report by the London School of Economics (LSE) showed that cycling generates nearly £ 3 billion a year to the UK economy (about US$4.8 billion). This investment accounts for the 23,000 people that are directly employed in the industry, and includes a cycling economy of parts, accessories and the two-wheelers themselves. Though the shiny-new bike holds its place in childhood lore, there is a booming market for second hand bikes that stands in stark contrast to the ephemerality of the contemporary consumer product.
According to an interview with The Guardian Dr. Alexander Grous of LSE, who conducted this cycling-economy research, “The good news is that structural, economic, social and health factors seem finally to have created a true step-change in the UK’s cycling scene.” Figures in the report suggest that a 20-percent increase in cycling by 2015, should generate savings of £207 million (about US$330 million). by reducing road congestion, reduce the externalities of pollution by £71 million and cuts costs to the National Health System (NHS) by £52 million (about US$83 million)
U.K. politicians are beginning to realize the importance of bicycles to Britain, not just for economic growth but for better public health. For Brazil, NGOs, the public and blogs like this one have been the predominant actors for highlighting the importance cycling infrastructure and had voted with their feet -on pedals that is- for an expanded cycling culture. With a little less than four years to go until Rio 2016, the cycling culture of Brazil may well settle in with Olympic force.