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Why Invest in Leisure Cycling?. Adrian Lord, Arup Consultant to Cycling England. The Economics of Cycling.

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why invest in leisure cycling

Why Invest in Leisure Cycling?

Adrian Lord, Arup

Consultant to Cycling England

the economics of cycling
The Economics of Cycling
  • Cycling England investment based on ‘people’. Having identified the people it is then easy to look at ‘places’ and ‘journeys’ – and therefore what ‘measures’ will stimulate, encourage, enable and support cycling
  • ‘People’ targeted to date include:
    • Children and young people – ‘Bikeability’ training, Links to School and ‘Bike It’ – Derby, Exeter
    • People living along a ‘named’ route – Aylesbury
    • Employees – tax-free bike scheme, Bike User Groups
    • Health referrals – Guided rides, training, exercise on prescription
    • New schemes to target rail commuters, NHS workplaces, leisure cyclists in 2009 - 11

Aylesbury’s ‘Gemstone Cycleways’

Brighton’s ‘Cycle Freeway’

Exeter’s Exe Estuary

gaining support for cycling
Gaining support for cycling
  • Getting people to cycle requires appropriate expertise backed by enthusiasm and determination within organisations to overcome political / social / technical issues
  • One such ‘barrier’ is the perception of value for money by decision makers – i.e. “Nobody will come, its too hilly, too rainy for cycling here” or “we spent all that money and you only see 6 people a day on it”
  • ‘Transport’ more important than ‘Leisure’ cycling?
why invest in leisure cycling1
Why invest in leisure cycling?
  • Majority of cycling is for pleasure and recreation (80%), especially in rural areas
  • Journey purpose is irrelevant to the personal health benefits of cycling – and the consequent economic benefits
  • Potential to bring expenditure and employment into an area
  • Sustainable tourism – transport one of biggest sources of air pollution in National Parks
  • It may be an ‘entry point’ for other cycling – much easier way to start riding for fun than riding to work
what is it worth nationally
What is it worth nationally?
  • Research economists SQW were commissioned to bring together some values for cycling including:
    • Health
      • Reduced mortality (CHD, stroke and colon cancer)
      • Reduced NHS costs
      • Reduced absenteeism (increased productivity)
    • Pollution (reductions in car use = reduced emissions)
    • Congestion (benefits to other road users)
    • Does not cover benefits to children’s health, contribution to reducing obesity, mental welfare, or social benefits such as improving access and inclusion

By 2010, 6 million women and over 6.6 million men in England will be obese

Source: Department of Health 2006, Forecasting obesity to 2010

Healthcare cost of the active person versus the sedentary

Cost of healthcare







20 40 60 80

Years of life


The savings from switching from a car to a bicycle for a commuting journey are generated by quantifying the benefits of protecting health as well as the value of reducing greenhouse gas emissions


Calculation based on research on value of savings for other road users. The value of substituting car for cycle trips is higher in areas of greater congestion, creating greater savings for cycling investment in cities than in rural areas.


Valuing the benefits of cycling

The value of cycling is higher where:

  • Less active people become more active
  • Older people are persuaded to cycle
  • Where cycling replaces a car trip, particularly in urban areas
  • Where the journey is a regular trip

These are conservative indications - no allowance has been made for reductions in obesity / for children cycling / for the social benefits of cycling

the most valuable cyclists also coincide with one of the key market segments for uk tourism
The ‘most valuable’ cyclists also coincide with one of the key market segments for UK tourism

Summary of Benefits

  • Bringing together the range of values associated with additional cycling produces significant benefit
  • Estimated economic benefit is between £87 and £382 per cyclist per year depending on characteristics and trips
  • These are likely to be conservative estimates
  • The calculation of benefits provides a benchmark for assessing value for money
  • This economic case for cycling will become stronger, as the costs of inactivity, obesity, pollution and congestion continue to grow

Projectingthepotentialforcycling to generate future value

Cumulative values generated as a result of increases of 20% (return to 1995 levels), 30% and 50%

in the number of cycle trips made between 2005 and 2015


Projecting the potential for cycling to generate future value to the economy

Cumulative values generated as a result of increases of 20%, 30% and 50%

in the number of cycle trips made between 2005 and 2015


Cost – Benefit Ratios

[1] Benefits for Bike It are lower than other interventions because the health (and safety) related benefits for children cannot be quantified.

evidence of increased cycling following investment
Evidence of increased cycling following investment
  • Average increase in Cycling Towns is 27% during first 3 years
  • Typically 50 - 100 new (and sustained) cyclists at every school following Bikeability / Bike It plus infrastructure
  • Massive take up of ‘Tax-Free’ bike scheme and increasing volume and value of cycle sales
  • 68% increase in U16 participation in British Cycling events
successful leisure cycling projects
Successful Leisure Cycling Projects
  • Sustrans National Cycle Network
  • Forestry Commission – MTB centres
  • Tarka Trail, Camel Trail – Family trails
  • C2C Route – challenge routes
  • Events – Sky rides, ‘Sportives’, Charity Rides, ‘Bike Time’ rides
cycling england s leisure cycling projects
Cycling England’s Leisure Cycling Projects

3 projects funded to 2011: –

    • Peak District
    • Devon County Council
    • Forestry Commission/Hoseasons sites
  • Aims to offer a ‘memorable cycling experience’ for visitors and follow up with support to help them continue cycling at home
  • Attempts to engage with ‘near market’ of people willing to try cycling occasionally
cycling england s leisure cycling projects1
Cycling England’s Leisure Cycling Projects
  • Projects ‘go live’ from Easter 2010
  • Some infrastructure, but mainly delivered through marketing and partnerships for bike hire etc
  • Will also contribute knowledge to the ‘gap’ in current research about links between leisure cycling and utility cycling
questions and further information
Questions and further information
  • Cycling England website – ‘Smart measures’ portfolio and case studies (www.dft.gov.uk/cyclingengland)
  • Cycling England advice team
          • info@cyclingengland.co.uk

Adrian Lord

0121 213 3650