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Issue:- 22 July 2009


THE 1st ever research in England and Wales into the long term effects of cycle training programmes for young people and adults has shown evidence of major behavioural shifts.  More than 30,000 young people and adults in Merseyside have been trained by Merseyside Transport Partnership (MTP)’s TravelWise cycle training scheme – the largest in the country – since April 2006.

New research commissioned by MTP shows that more than a 3rd of trainees on Merseyside are using bikes for “utility” reasons – travelling to work, school, the shops or appointments – as well as for leisure. And almost all parents and guardians who took part in the research believed that their child’s cycling safety had improved.

Funded by MTP and Cycling England, which is supported and funded by the Department for Transport, the Bikeability cycle sessions are run by Liverpool-based not-for-profit company Cycling Solutions.

Overall the research showed a consistent and marked increase in both “utility” and leisure cycling. After training, 37% of trainees cycle for transportation reasons and more than 90% of them are cycling for leisure at least once a week.  More than 97% of parents and guardians saw an improvement in their child’s cycling safety – with 75% noting “a lot” of improvement – and reported a 56% increase in other family members cycling. The number of young people cycling to school after training is more than double the regional average.

MTP chairman Neil Scales said the results were “hugely significant, not just for this area but for the whole country.”  He went on:- “For the first time anywhere in the country we have solid evidence that training programmes like ours have a clear, long term positive effect on behaviour and attitudes, not just of individuals who attend training but on their families.  This impacts on their health and well being, on transport issues such as traffic and air quality, and in turn on economic growth in the area.”

The research was carried out via 1100 phone interviews with households of trainees from all areas and age groups offered training. The research was grouped in 4 key areas.

Increased levels of cycling

· there was a “considerable” 37% increase in “utility” cycling (for transportation purposes)

· a 63% increase in cycling for leisure

Strong positive impact on perceived safety and enjoyment

· 97% of parents/guardians thought the training had improved the child’s safety when cycling (75% noted “a lot” of improvement)

· 73% of parents/guardians thought the child’s enjoyment of cycling had improved

Many are now regular cyclists

· 17% now cycle regularly to school

· 51% cycle at least once a week for “utility” purposes

· 92% cycle at least once a week for leisure purposes

Strong impact on family’s attitudes to cycling

· 56% report a “real increase” in leisure cycling in the family

· 30% report a “real increase” in “utility” cycling

· 48% of parents/guardians “much more willing” to allow their child to cycle

· 81% report a “more positive attitude” towards cycling generally

In addition, researchers reported a “substantial number” of unprompted positive comments about the quality and benefits of the cycle training programme.

Neil Scales added:- “We are particularly encouraged that 4% of parents/guardians reported that their child is cycling to school 5 days a week, rising to 12% for those who cycle once a week.  In Merseyside, school census data suggests that generally only 1.2% of children cycle to school. Our research demonstrates that training makes a significant difference when compared to the background figures.”

Philip Darnton, Chair of Cycling England, said he was “delighted” that the first UK research of this kind showed such positive benefit. He went on:- “Merseyside Transport Partnership should be applauded for the lead they have taken in this field. This research gives us clear evidence which can be used to back up training proposals all over the country.”

Paula Grey, Director of Public Health at Liverpool PCT, said:- “Cycling is a proven way to improve health for all ages, so this research, with its strong evidence of behavioural change, is extremely important.  Regular cycling can play major part in leading a healthier lifestyle and we are very happy to be working with TravelWise to achieve a cycling culture locally.  The research shows that with professional training and support through TravelWise, MTP is making a quantifiable difference to the health and well-being of Merseyside.”

The website and helpline 0151 330 1290 offer advice on cycle training and further information on cycling in Merseyside.


8 out of 10 Brits suffer from aches and pains caused by modern technology.  New research has identified 10 common complaints people live with on a daily basis – with the worst being back ache and shoulder strain after using the desktop computer or laptop.

In fact, the study suggests 75% of people don’t sit correctly when using the PC and the average person sits slumped in front of the monitor for more than 5 hours a day.  With more than half of all British households owning a computer, and almost everyone having access to a computer via libraries, schools, internet cafes and work, it is no wonder millions of people are in pain.

The poll of 7,333 people across the UK was conducted by new pain relief brand Mobigel Paineze Spray.  It revealed that 4 in 10 people regularly suffer from a cricked neck after making mobile phone calls whilst on the move. 

Guilty of propping the phone up between ear and neck, mobile phone users are making a rod for their own back by talking to friends whilst also typing, walking and multi-tasking.  A further 37% of Brits admit they put up with neck ache after lounging on the sofa in front of the television for a couple of hours every night.

A spokesman for Mobigel Paineze Spray said:- “For many people, muscular pain and inflammation are common occurrences, yet people do not realise that the everyday habits are the cause of their discomfort.  It would seem that modern technology is often the culprit for many of our injuries though ironically it is meant to make our lives easier.”

The poll also shows that the rise in the number of people playing computer games has led to injuries such as wrist strain.  New fangled technology such as the Nintendo Wii is being held accountable for hundreds of injuries nationwide, and 36% say they often feel uncomfortable after gaming.  Working at a computer is responsible for 2 out of the most common injuries listed in the top 10 – as the computer mouse also responsible for thousands of people rolling around in agony.  A whopping 26% of Brits claim to suffer from finger strain or repetitive strain after clicking the computer mouse several thousand times a day.  A quarter of the 25 million British commuters blame their car and traffic congestion for their constant niggles and aches.

A spokesman for Mobigel Paineze Spray continued:- “Though many people often rely on painkillers in tablet form, research shows that pain relief products that are applied directly to the affected areas can penetrate deeper to bring more targeted and more effective pain relief, with fewer side effects.”

Hair styling has also come under fire as men and women across the UK crack under the pressure to look good.  25% of respondents say daily styling with hair dryers, curling tongs, and straighteners has left them with arm and shoulder strain. 

The mobile phone appears twice in the top 10 for being the cause of pain and suffering – as 19% of folk also have achy thumbs after text messaging their mates. 

Open plan offices are to blame for the 13% of workers who have neck ache from all the chair swivelling required to talk to colleagues. 

Whilst 10% of Brits have at some point tripped up, fallen over, or walked into something when tweeting on Twitter to other followers. 

The poll reveals that 71% of people think it is highly likely that many of their muscle aches and pain are caused by modern day living.


1. Back ache or shoulder strain after using the computer or laptop (75%)

2. Cricked neck following mobile phone calls (38%)

3. Neck ache after watching television (37%)

4. Wrist strain after playing computer games (36%)

5. Repetitive strain injury or finger strain after clicking the computer mouse (26%)

6. Back ache following car commute (25%)

7. Arm or shoulder strain following hair straightening / styling (24%)

8. Achy thumbs after text messaging (19%)

9. Neck ache from straining to see colleagues in an open plan office (13%)

10. Strains and bruises from Twittering whilst walking (10%)


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