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This paper was to be presented at the VeloCity Global Conference in Adelaide South Australia on 29th March 2014, but circumstances prevented my doing so. It is placed here to put it on the public record and to make it accessible to stakeholders and others interested in the economics of cycling and walking.
Most jurisdictions now have policies supporting greater use of active transport (walking and cycling). Despite this, programs often have difficulty either getting or sustaining the level of funding necessary for achieving the objectives of those policies.
Despite decades of published research and analytical studies of the value of walking, cycling, active transport and travel behaviour change, transport planners are often strangely reluctant to accept that these alternatives to the car perform as well as or better than car-based or public transport investments. It’s almost as if we don’t believe our own rhetoric. This is, paradoxically, reflected in the insistence on monitoring and post-evaluation of many travel behaviour change projects, as though previous evaluations are unreliable. Perhaps ironically, these post evaluations provide a body of research and analysis that consistently shows walking and cycling to be effective and valuable alternatives to driving the private car for sufficient of our daily travel to be at least as worthwhile investing in as more conventional transport projects.
In recent years, the ability to demonstrate the value of active transport has been enhanced by research into the value of congestion-reduction and health effects, which can be more than half the total benefits.
This paper uses recent research to demonstrate that the socio-economic case for investment in active transport has been sufficiently articulated and quantified that a more streamlined model of public sector decision-making is warranted and required. Such a model might be based on a program rather than project approach, with ex-ante appraisal of projects in a program context, and simpler, less costly monitoring of effectiveness and outcomes.