We welcome cycling sports spectacles such the Tour de France (TdF) as a tourism and culture events promoting and showcasing Newcastle and the region to the world. However we urge caution about any claims of lasting local effects these events create beyond their short lifespan (legacy). Experience and evidence over recent years (like TdF stages in Yorkshire and the Olympics) have not shown these big sporting events living up to their legacy forecast.
To create a true cycling legacy, lasting for decades to come, we therefore believe money needs to be invested into building a cycle network that allows people to feel safe and comfortable to cycle on for their everyday journeys. Events like Sky Ride show that people do enjoy to cycle when roads are made safe for them. The hidden demand to cycle is clearly there. If cycle infrastructure could be built Newcastle could have its real lasting cycling legacy. In fact, the TdF could create a great opportunity to promote and show off such infrastructure to the world if built before the event.
Currently we are however worried about resources (monies and staff) being diverted away from Newcastle’s Cycle City ambition by the TdF bid preparation (and hosting if successful) and that urgency and momentum on pressing city cycling infrastructure matters are lost.
We will ask Newcastle City Council about the details of their plans with the TdF and ask them to keep us updated on it. We will revisit this position statement when we have more information.
Added on 7 January 2017
In the BBC documentary Scotland Investigates – The Medal Myth John Beattie (broadcast 2 January 2017) looked at why the nation’s elite sporting success has not translated into a healthier population. How real is the link between elite sport and health? Speaking to Professor Leigh Robinson of the University of Stirling.
John Beattie “Is there any evidence that if we win medals say at the gams abroad or when we host an event that that makes the rest of us healthy?”
Professor Leigh Robinson “No, no evidence at all.”
John Beattie “But it is such a persuasive argument.”
Professor Leigh Robinson “It is because we like the idea of it, if we win a medal others will rush out and take part in physical activity. But that just doesn’t happen.”
John Beattie “So has there ever been a games where that has been a health benefit afterwards anywhere in the world?”
Professor Leigh Robinson: “No.” and “Politicians and people who are trying to promote elite sport need to stop with that argument [that elite sport makes a population healthy].”
John Beattie, in closing remark: “I have been hearing that the problem of inactivity in this country is a huge one. We need things that make the population healthier and more active just in their day to day living. And one thing we can say for sure is sport doesn’t have all the answers.”