Valuing active travel: Including the health benefits of sustainable transport in transportation appraisal frameworks

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

economics - appraisal/evaluation, economics - benefits, mode - bike, mode - pedestrian, place - australasia


Walking and cycling, Active travel, Social cost benefit analysis, Infrastructure investment


Sustainable transport investments linked to improving public transport or designed specifically to improve walking and cycling networks (for example, bicycle infrastructure) typically underestimate the contribution of these active travel modes. This is because the investment appraisal mechanism, social cost benefit analysis, lacks an agreed methodology or well defined parameter values for establishing the demand and the associated health benefits and costs of active travel.

Correcting for the acknowledged benefits of walking and cycling (including contributions to achieving physical activity targets and maintaining health) requires an appropriate framework and parameter values to allow these benefits to be captured in a robust and consistent manner. This paper proposes such a framework for the Australian context and a consequent weighted benefit of $1.68 per km (range $1.23–$2.50) for walking and a $1.12 per km (range $0.82–$1.67) for cycling that includes both mortality and morbidity changes resulting from a more active lifestyle. Investigation of the potential health costs associated with motorised travel and reduced physical activity requires further detailed research.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


Research in Transportation Business & Management