On your bike

Your assertion that "if Britain's health is worse than that of other European countries, it is mainly because we haven't paid enough for it" (Leader, 3 December) needs to be challenged. Are you seriously suggesting that the health of a nation is directly related to the amount spent on treating its illnesses? We can do much more to enhance our health and well-being without recourse to medicine. Getting out of our cars and on to our feet or bicycles - for the 50 per cent of car journeys that are under two miles - might be a place to start. That would begin to deal with traffic congestion outside school gates, accidents involving children, our lack of physical activity and, in the long run, the prescriptions we need. In Odense, Denmark, 60 per cent of children cycle to school; in the UK, the average is 2 per cent.

David Browning
Rothbury, Northumberland

This article first appeared in the 10 December 2001 issue of the New Statesman, The New Statesman Special Report - The great Koran con trick