FAQ: What are the benefits of cycling, or active transportation generally?

Designed To MoveIncreasing the modal share of cycling and walking offers a myriad of well-documented benefits to individuals, families, neighbourhoods, retail business areas, workplaces and society at large. The full diversity of health, social, environmental and economic benefits have been studied and documented for over a decade now.  (above infographic from Designed to Move)

As all the benefits are well-researched, well-documented and readily available, they will not be explored in detail here.  Rather, a few starter links are provided for the reader’s own exploration.

  1. Designed to Move is a compelling set of reports out of the USA that provides summarized and in-depth analysis and presentations of the many benefits of making cities more supportive of being active.
  2. Massive collection maintained by the People for Bikes organization in the USA
  3. The Healthy Living Niagara community partnership has produced a series of monographs highlighting (with references), the economic benefits of active transportation for various sectors, including local businesses, tourism, schools, overall health, and air quality.
  4. The Conference Board of Canada produced an extensive research piece in 2014, showing the monetized benefits of reducing inactivity by even a small amount. The potential gain for Canada is $2.6billion reduction in health care costs and $7.5billion GDP growth by 2040.
  5. The Victoria Transport Policy Institute published an updated version of Evaluating Active Transport Benefits and Costs: Guide to Valuing Walking and Cycling Improvements and Encouragement Programs, a wide ranging analytic dive into the subject.
  6. The Victoria Transport Policy Institute has also done extensive research into the social equity issues involving housing and transportation costs. Providing viable active transportation alternatives like safe cycling routes, and reducing car ownership, leaves more money for food and housing.
  7. The Victoria Transport Policy Institute has also published Whose Roads? Defining Bicyclists’ And Pedestrians’ Right To Use Public Roads. This report investigates the degree to which bicyclists and pedestrians pay for the transportation facilities (roads, paths and sidewalks) they use. It finds that such facilities are funded primarily by general taxes, which non-drivers fund through general taxes, while they impose much lower costs per mile of travel than motorists.

And the list could go on for pages and pages and pages! The bottom line is that the benefits are well understood, tangible and can be monetized.

Author: Alan Medcalf

Alan is a post-corporate, volunteer, community builder living in Brockville, Ontario. He seeks to create sustainable lifestyle advantage for the community by creating opportunities for more people to choose to walk and to ride bikes. He promotes the health, social, environmental and economic benefits of active mobility.