New report identifies fivefold economic benefits of investing in active travel

Press release

- 'Strong and robust' case for greater investment in active travel -

In the run up to the publication of the Government's Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, a new report from the Urban Transport Group (which represents the UK's largest urban transport authorities) sets out the fivefold economic benefits of investing in active travel.

The benefits are:

  • Health costs: physical inactivity is estimated to cost the NHS of £1.06 billion per year.
  • Economic value of trips: ten billion annual journeys are undertaken in England every year by bicycle and on foot with an economic value of £14 billion.
  • Economic benefits of an improved urban realm: city centres with an improved urban realm have been associated with as much as a 40% uplift in retail takings.
  • Promoting inclusive growth: in England, 48% of households in the lowest income quintile do not have access to a car.
  • Direct employment and spend: the UK market for cycling equipment and goods alone is now worth an estimated £3 billion a year.

The report also provides a concise and accessible summary of the wider evidence base for investing in active travel which urban transport planners and practitioners can use in building the case for policies and projects.

Ben Still, Managing Director of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, and lead Urban Transport Group Board member for active travel said:

'This report shows there is a strong and robust economic case for investing more in active travel. Active travel creates direct employment, reduces congestion for all road users, makes our urban areas more attractive places to invest in and helps tackle the costs to the health service of dealing with the outcomes of physical inactivity. With this in mind, at both a national and local government level, we need to raise our game in promoting active travel. It should not be seen as a marginal or optional extra for transport investment strategies but as one of the most effective tools we have with which to support vibrant local economies, keep our urban areas moving and improve people's health, life chances and wellbeing.'

'The Government's forthcoming Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Statement provides an opportunity for some fresh impetus and support for the initiatives that urban transport authorities are already taking in this area. We hope that this report will also provide both local and national government with a one stop shop for all the key economic arguments for investing in active travel presented in a clear, authoritative and compelling way.’

For more contact Jonathan Bray on 0113 251 7445 / 0781 804 1485

The report can be downloaded below.