Break the obesity (bi)cycle

New research in the UK has found that commuters who cycle, walk or catch the bus or train to work keep more weight off than those who drive. Yes it’s another story about research pointing out the obvious. So I can think of nothing else but to discuss these groundbreaking *cough* findings and see how us fatties in the UK shape up against the Dutch who prefer the more outdoorsy commute.

The data comes from 150,000 UK adults aged 40 or older who agreed to be measured and weighed and fill in a survey about their typical journey to and from work. So at least we can say it was somewhat scientific.
Cycling came out on top as the best activity for keeping lean closely followed by walking. 60% of adults in the UK do not meet the suggested work out levels of 30 minutes three times a week and therefore encouraging a more active commute would help the current growing obesity problems. Around 11% of the Dutch population are obese and a staggering 64% in the United Kingdom. Can cycling really make that much difference?
bicycleI live in the same town in which I work therefore walking to and from work is a joyous daily routine for me. I even walk home for lunch most days too. I feel fitter for it, my legs are more shapely and it’s good for the mind, not to mention the amount of money I’ve saved in petrol (what I used to spend a week I now spend a month!). Anything that tones the calfs and saves the environment is a good thing in my book.

Not everyone has the luxury I do. All of my friends have to commute and all of them use their cars – many could cycle but don’t. Have we all just become lazy in our lives? Do we all prefer our sleep time as opposed to being out in the world?

Although there are very little reliable and up to date statistics it is estimated that 26% of Dutch people cycle their commute and in some parts such as Groningen and Zwolle that percentage is about 50% above the average. Now that is impressive. This compared with 2% of those in good ol’Grand Britannia is quite a stark difference, some individual towns have a little higher but nothing comes close.

So why don’t we cycle in the UK?

For all of the benefits to the environment and our health predominately, I’d say the reason the UK doesn’t peddle is down to safety. Here in the UK our roads aren’t laid out for it and neighbouring towns have spent millions taking sections of carriage way from cars to create cycle lanes that are not being used or are being used as a parking zone for inconsiderate homeowners totally defeating the idea of cycle safety.

Riding a bicycle on a pavement or footpath in the UK is actually an illegal  under the Highways Act 1835, Section 72 carrying a fine of £50. This along with not having adequate front and rear lights or carrying more than one person incurs a fixed penalty of a further £50.00 per offence. All bicycles should also have a bell or a horn.aa46884eddcd415959ccc59e9e07acfb

Whereas across Holland it is totally legal to be on the phone, kid in the front, shopping on a trailer behind, holding an umbrella with a dog running alongside. Lights and a bell are compulsory but thats about all. No need for a helmet, its frowned upon to cycle on the pavement but there are so many cycle lanes you’d never need to.

Some towns and cities in the UK are cycle friendly, such as Oxford where 20% of their population predominantly get from A-B on two wheels as opposed to any other method of transport. London – the congestion capital – is home to many cyclists wanting to avoid the tube and stationary line of public transport and cabs, many of which take their own life in their hands before the first full rotation of the wheels, it must be an exhausting way to get to work.

We will never be Amsterdam and Brits will never have the innate respect for cyclists like the Dutch do. You’ll never see little trailer of children being cycled to school – helmet free may I add! Here are 10 of the most cycle friendly towns in the UK if you’re after a little trip to somewhere to ride your bike or just stick to what you know and check out the 10 best routes in Holland7422635350_0cf5243ee0.jpg

With over half the UK population obese and just 2% cycling theres no wonder the Dutch are all so beautiful and fit! Encouraging more to walk and cycle to work like our Orange friends isn’t a bad idea at this moment in time its a bloody good one!


Maria Smith
Born and raised in England Maria is a Dutch obsessive. Not just in love with the windmills and tulips her passion for all things Orange has spanned over 10 years. Proud feminist and campaigner, Maria works in UK politics whilst dreaming about eventually moving to the Netherlands.


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