It pays to invest in bikes, Cycling England tells councils20/03/2009 News
The research, by independent economists SQW, argues that cycling must be treated with the same rigour as other modes of transport if its benefits are to be fully understood.
The research, commissioned by Cycling England, shows how local authority planners can apply conventional cost benefit modeling to ensure a better return on investment for every pound spent on cycling.
The study presents for the first time a Cycling Planning Model (CPM) that will help local planners to better assess the number of additional cyclists required to generate a return on investment. The model shows how a surprisingly small number of additional cyclists will pay for investment in new cycling infrastructure. The model suggests:
· An investment of £10,000 requires one additional regular cyclist
· An investment of £100,000 requires 11 additional regular cyclists
The research defines regular cycling as three times a week and measures the impact across the lifetime of a project – assumed in this study to be 30 years.
The study draws on previous research published in 2007 by SQW which placed an economic value on the contribution to be made by cycling. It argued that through improvements in health, reductions in congestion and by enhancing the ambient environment, a 50% increase in the number of trips by bicycle would generate benefits worth £1.3bn by 2015.
Government policy already encourages local authorities to include cycling in the planning process through Planning Policy Guidance 13: Transport 7 (PPG13). But an analysis of the first round of Local Transport Plans (LTPs), running from 2001/02 to 2005/06, showed cycling to be below targets or expectations. Only 25% of local authorities were considered to be ‘on track’ to achieve their core cycling targets.
Phillip Darnton, Chairman of Cycling England, said: “Unless the full benefits of cycling are taken into account we will systematically under-invest in cycling. Cycling must compete for investment with other modes of transport and this requires robust evidence of its benefits.
“We believe the Cycling Planning Model will help give local authorities a clearer sense of the return on investment build cycling can deliver. We hope it will enable them to build cycling into their thinking at an earlier stage in the planning process.”
An extra £140m of funding for cycling was announced by Government last year, leading to the creation of an additional 11 Cycling Towns and the first Cycling City in Bristol. The first six Cycling Demonstration Towns were launched in 2005. The funds are also being used to build 250 new Safe Links to Schools and to train 500,000 school children in Bikeability, “cycling proficiency for the 21st Century.”