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Claiming the Health Dividend: Value for Money Estimates of Investment in Walking and Cycling

Key Message

This report summarizes the latest findings in studies that looked at benefit-to-cost ratios of investments in walking and cycling which are considered to be around 5:1. 

Source

Davis, Adrian. (2014). Claiming the Health Dividend: A summary and discussion of value for money estimates from studies of investment in walking and cycling. London, UK: Department for Transport.

Purpose

The report compiles the latest available cost benefit evidence from the UK and abroad from studies that have calculated health benefits alongside other benefits such as savings in travel time, congestion and accidents.

Evidence

This report focuses largely on the financial benefits accruing as a result of improvements in health when more of the population become physically active through choosing walking and cycling – for part or all of their travel choices. Illness as an outcome of physical inactivity has been conservatively calculated to directly cost the NHS up to £1.0 billion per annum (2006-07 prices). Indirect costs have been estimated as £8.2 billion per annum (2002 prices).

Walking and cycling have been identified as a key means by which people can build physical activity into their everyday lives. The volume of literature especially on Cost Benefit Analysis of interventions to promote routine walking and cycling has grown in the past decade or so and reveals that the economic justification for investments to facilitate cycling and walking had previously been under-rated or even ignored. Much of the benefit is derived from reductions in premature deaths with large consequent savings in terms of health and knock–on benefits to the economy.

This update of a review published in 2010 assesses the evidence base from both peer reviewed and grey literature both in the UK and beyond. As per the original review it remains the case that almost all of the studies identified report economic benefits of walking and cycling interventions which are highly significant. In terms of value for money, the Department of Transport values ‘very highly’ any scheme which returns more than £4 for every £1 invested. The mean benefit to cost ratio for all schemes identified in this report is 6.28:1 and for the UK alone the mean figure is 5.62:1. 4.

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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