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Assessing the economic benefits of active transport policies

Pedestrians and cyclists in a park with green trees.

Growing concerns about climate change, air pollution, human health and also the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have renewed the use of and policy interest in active transport (AT) modes, namely cycling and walking. However, what are the economic benefits of policies promoting AT modes in cities?

This paper brings together interdisciplinary perspectives to assess the economic impacts of policies encouraging AT modes. Natalie Gravett and Luis Mundaca used the city of Oxford (the UK) as a case study and evaluated four policy packages (including 300+ specific policy scenarios) promoting a mode shift to AT modes for the 2030–2050 period. The results show that a policy mix that maximises economic benefits entails bike-sharing, cycle parking, training and education, low traffic neighbourhoods, e-bike grants, a workplace parking levy and increased use of a ‘cycle-to-work’ scheme. Benefits are estimated in the range of: 62–256 prevented premature deaths; 18–50 million tonnes of avoided CO2e emissions; resulting in a total gross economic benefit of €3.45–11.28 billion. The research shows that investing in AT policy interventions represents a multi-faceted low-carbon opportunity that should not be missed by policymakers.

Read the full paper (open access) in the Journal of Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives.