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Economic benefits of cycling. Bruce Macdonald. Making the case. . SQW carried out research for Cycling England to measure the benefits of cycling

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Economic benefits of cycling

Bruce Macdonald

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Making the case


  • SQW carried out research for Cycling England to measure the benefits of cycling

  • The case for public investment means demonstrating that cycling makes a wider contribution to society than is reflected in the benefits for individual cyclists:

    • e.g. better health, productivity, reduced pollution and congestion

  • As context, a report commissioned by DfT found that between 2001/02 and 2005/06, cycling outcomes under Local Transport Plans fell below targets or expectations

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    Making the case


    • Need to answer to 2 questions:

      • How much additional cycling activity do specific investments generate?

      • What is the “value” generated by increasing the amount of cycling activity (health, pollution, congestion)?

    • Answering these questions will:

      • build confidence in planning for cycling investment

      • increase cycling’s influence in the planning process, and

      • strengthen the political will to deliver successful cycling projects

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    Translating benefits into hard numbers


    • Research commissioned to value the measurable benefits of cycling:

      • Improvements in general health and fitness

        • - Reduced mortality

        • - Reduced NHS costs

        • - Reduced absenteeism

      • Cutting pollution and CO2 emissions

      • Contribution to easing congestion

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    Valuing the benefits

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    The investment case

    • A 50% increase in trips between 2005 and 2015 will generate savings of £1.3 billion

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    The Cycling Planning Model

    Number of cyclists needed to achieve a benefit to cost ratio of 1:1


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    Applying the Cycling Planning Model


    • Five case studies

    • Results reflect the values attributed to additional cyclists (but some benefit pedestrians and will other social effects)

    • Found it difficult to identify no. of new cyclists

    • The value of benefits ranged from £0.34 to over £40.00 for a £1 invested

    • Absolutely critical to build up data on how various investment activities generate additional cyclists

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    Thank you

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