The health benefits of cycling in our towns and cities are well known, but a new study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health indicates that investing in the cycling infrastructure in our towns and cities offers massive financial benefits as well.
Significant uncertainty exists with regard to the amount and effectiveness of investment needed for cycling infrastructure and the objective of this study was to assess how the costs of the US city of Portland’s past and planned investments in bicycling, relate to health and other benefits.
The report revealed that by 2040, investments in the range of £85 to £376 million will result in health care cost savings of £85.6 million to £369.6 million, fuel savings of £89 to £135 million, and savings in value of statistical lives of a mind boggling £4.36 to £7.47 billion!
The value of a statistical life is most commonly determined by looking at a person’s willingness to pay or willingness to accept. Willingness to pay can be found by asking a person how much they would be willing to pay for good health outcomes or to reduce bad health outcomes.
The study by Thomas Gotschi of the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Zurich, the first of its to investigate the cost to benefit analysis of investments in cycling in a US city about the size of Sheffield, shows that such efforts are cost-effective, even when only a limited selection of benefits is considered.