Well written Nick Triggle! Cycling and walking should be the norm for all short journeys, health experts say, without which, addressing "silent epidemic" inactivity which appears to threatening health situation in England might not be achievable.
This experts' declaration confirms Sir Liam Donaldson's "miracle cure" statement recently; ‘The potential benefits of physical activity to health are huge. If a medication existed which had a similar effect, it would be regarded as a “wonder drug” or “miracle cure”.’ - Sir Liam Donaldson – Chief Medical Officer (Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer 2009) (Source: here). Already, economically, it is known that cycling is contributing around £2.9 billion to the UK economy (Source: here).
Normalisation of cycling and walking is long overdue in England; particularly in the North East of England given the health outlook w.r.t. obesity and attitudes towards cyclists as well as issues surrounding cycleway networks and infrastructure.
The consensus on the benefits of cycling is in no doubt a positive one. The emphasis on how cycling updated could be realized is the emerging but pressing issue; my PhD research contributes in this regard albeit a relatively not too big a scope.