larming new intelligence has linked North Korea to the upsurge in UK cycling.
‘The UK government has long been concerned by the ever increasing use of bicycles on British roads,’ Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, told a House of Commons select committee today. ‘The harm caused by cycling is well understood, but, in common with excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, gambling and use of unprescribed drugs, it has been extremely difficult to control. The reasons for the cycling epidemic have also not been well understood until very recently.’
‘Cycling has become a particular problem for the NHS,’ Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, informed the Health Committee. ‘Conservative estimates indicate that the medical consequences of cycling cost the NHS over a billion pounds in 2017 – and this figure has been increasing year upon year. The sum exceeds the net cost to the NHS of alcohol, smoking and gambling addictions, combined, because these pursuits, although exacting a heavy toll on the nation’s physical and mental health, generate high and ongoing tax revenue.
‘Research has shown there to be three primary mechanisms by which cycling impacts on health,’ Mr Hunt told the committee. ‘The first follows from the fact that cycling vastly increases air pollution due to lengthening the journey times of legitimate road users. This has been shown to have significant physical health implications for everyone, including, of course, cyclists themselves.
‘The second impact on public health derives from stress experienced by other road users. This effect is partly caused by the unnecessary delays, but also results from a near constant state of driver anxiety caused by fear of colliding with virtually invisible, meandering cyclists. This psychological trauma imposes a direct cost on NHS mental health services, but also has an indirect impact on the wider NHS due to stress exacerbating physical conditions.
‘The third significant effect on the NHS, of course,’ concluded the Heath Secretary, ‘results from the very many accidents directly caused by cyclists.’
‘In addition to the impact on the NHS,’ the Transport Secretary told the committee, ‘the slowing of traffic caused by cyclists reduces road capacity. New research indicates that several controversial road schemes, some of which have had an undeniably negative environmental impact, would have been wholly unnecessary had cycling been banned on existing routes during rush hours. There is a tragic irony,’ Mr Grayling added, ‘in that many of the anti-road objectors cycled to protests or public hearings in a manner they believed to be consistent with their green convictions. In doing so, they were inadvertently contributing to data that supported the need for the related road project.’
The House of Commons Heath Select Committee heard that the overall cost of cycling to the UK economy in terms of lost production, though difficult to fully assess, was of the order of several billions of pounds each year. It had thus, until very recently, remained perplexing as to why so many normally responsible citizens had chosen to behave in such a reckless and anti-social manner. Research had consistently shown that few, if any, of the cycling community had any intent to do harm and, indeed, the overwhelming majority believed they were having quite the opposite effect.
‘We now know with certainty,’ revealed Dean Haydon, Head of UK Counter Terrorism Command, ‘that promotion of cycling in the UK has been covertly driven by North Korea as one of its strategies to destabilise Western democracies.
‘Overt terrorist acts in the West,’ Mr Haydon explained to the committee, ‘have tended to bring communities together in a spirit of love and forgiveness, rather than having a destabilising effect on society. Pyongyang recognised this at an early stage, and directed its efforts towards covert attacks on critical infrastructure – such as the NHS. The promotion of cycling in the UK has been the central focus of North Korean terrorist activity in the UK since 2010.
‘The intelligence community suspected this some time ago,’ Mr Haydon admitted. ‘Unfortunately it was assumed by the government that the North Koreans were perpetrating cyber-terrorism due to a typographical error in a 2012 MI6 report that should have alerted them to cycle-terrorism.’
The head of the UK Counter Terrorism Command went on to explain that a recent high ranking, North Korean defector has conclusively confirmed the North Korean plot. ‘Significant funds in support of UK cycling have now been traced to North Korea,’ he confirmed. ‘In addition, the training of more than one Olympic cycling champion has been wholly funded by an organisation that we now know to be a front for the Reconnaissance General Bureau.’
It was explained to the committee that the Reconnaissance General Bureau, or RGB, was the North Korean intelligence agency that managed the state’s clandestine operations.
The committee heard how, since the threat had been positively identified, measures had been put in place to halt further North Korean sponsorship of UK cycling. The UK Border Force had, for example, achieved a number of high profile successes in intercepting shipments of North Korean bicycles destined to be sold cheaply on Britain’s streets.
Despite these victories, however, the Health Secretary highlighted the plight of the very many cycling addicts who remained on Britain’s roads. He estimated that as many as five million people might require professional help to control the pathological cravings that put their own lives and those of others at such serious risk.
‘Many cyclists deny there is a problem, and are even angry about government interference,’ Mr Hunt explained. ‘This has sadly been evidenced by huge outcries from the cycling community whenever the Highways Agency has been forced to ban cycling on specific roads for totally obvious safety reasons. ‘It is, however, understandable, he conceded, ‘that many intelligent people may be reluctant and embarrassed to face the reality that they have been duped by a foreign power.’
‘Reversing the current cycling epidemic is going to be difficult,’ agreed the Transport Secretary, ‘because a democratic society cannot simply ban an activity such as cycling. In common with other extremely harmful pursuits – such as excessive smoking, drinking, gambling, use of unprescribed drugs or unsafe sex – it is necessary to adopt an approach of public awareness and education.
‘The government is addressing the problem on a number of fronts,’ Mr Grayling continued. ‘A “Stop Cycling Now” campaign has been launched which includes a 24/7 helpline. Support groups are been formed to encourage cyclists to confront their addiction and develop more positive and worthwhile lifestyles. Funds have also been made available for the construction of many more velodromes, so that those who are most badly affected can ride in a safe, off road environment; under the supervision of trained professionals.’
‘The NHS is employing a damage limitation model for addressing the cycling crisis,’ concluded the Health Secretary. ‘Experience with other types of rehabilitation services indicates that we are unlikely to totally eradicate cycling, but we hope that the situation can be managed in order to limit, as far as possible, the most devastating effects on individuals and society as a whole.’
If you have been affected by anything in this article, please visit the NHS Stop Cycling Now website.