An economic report produced by academics from Leeds University has found that increasing cycle use in England would pay for itself many times over. Commissed by the CTC, the report makes a strong economic case for investing in cycling.
“The Economic Cycle – Quantifying the benefits of getting England Cycling” found that getting more people to use cycles for transportation would generate £248bn in economic benefits by 2050. The report was written by Fiona Crawford of the Institute of Transport Studies at Leeds University and the geography department's Dr Robin Lovelace.
The academics were tasked with quantifying the benefits of cycling if the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s “Get Britain Cycling” report were met, in comparison with the targets set in the Government’s draft “Cycling Delivery Plan”. The Get Britain Cycling report recommended an increase of cycle use from less than 2 per cent of all journeys to 10 per cent by 2025 and 25 per cent by 2050. (This is in comparison to the CDP which merely proposes a doubling of journeys by 2025.)
The report found that meeting the parliamentary Get Britain Cycling report’s targets would yield annual benefits in 2050 worth £42bn in today’s money. The cumulative benefits would be worth £248bn between 2015 and 2050 even taking account of the fact that long term benefits are worth less than those achieved in the shorter term.
By contrast, the Government's Cycling Delivery Plan would only generate annual benefits of £6.4bn in 2050, and ’discounted’ cumulative benefits of £46.4bn. These economic benefits are generated chiefly through increased physical fitness in the population, but also reduced congestion and absenteeism, improved air quality and other areas.
CTC chief executive Paul Tuohy said: “Every day it seems a new report is issued that states the UK through an increasing sedentary existence is eating its way into an obesity epidemic that will break the NHS and cost billions to the economy.
“The Economic Cycle report proves conclusively that cycling can make a real difference to waist-lines and the economy – £248bn worth of difference. However this can only be achieved if ambitious targets to encourage cycle growth are set and there is a proper long term funding strategy in place.
“CTC has joined its cycling and walking coalition partners to call on MPs to support Dr Julian Huppert MP’s amendment to the Infrastructure Bill which would create a legally binding Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy. Such a strategy will make the possibility of cycling’s massive return on investment less of a dream and increasingly a reality.”