The Cost of Doing Nothing

Cycling for Retail

Cycling for Business

Cycling for Health

Infrastructure Investment

Personal Wealth

The Cost of Doing Nothing

DEFRA modelling suggests air pollution from man-made fine particulate matter is estimated to cut life expectancy by 6 months, averaged across the UK. Based on 2008 figures, this equates to health costs of as high as £19 billion per year, primarily in urban areas.


Cardiovascular disease is estimated to cost the UK economy just under £26 billion a year.

By 2050, the NHS cost of overweight and obesity could rise to £9.7 billion, with the wider cost to society being £49.9 billion.

cost of transport 2009

Cycling for Retail

Studies show that retail sales are up for shops located on busy cycling routes. In New York, stores near protected bike lanes have had a 49% increase in sales (3% borough-wide).

Biking changes the way people shop, for example, parking becomes easier for cyclists as compared to car drivers.A higher density of bicycles can be parked than cars, which may lead to a higher density of shopper in any given area.

Although bikers spend less money on each visit, the total expenditure over a month is higher than that for drivers.

Want To Make Money? Build A Business On A Bike Lane: 
New York City DoT: Measuring the Streets, New Metrics for 21st Century Streets


A retail street in Australia found that each square metre of space allocated to cars contributed $6 per hour in expenditure, whereas each square metre of space allocated to bicycles brought in five times as much ($31 per hour). One car parking space can be used by 8 bikes, concluding that replacing car parking with bicycle parking makes economic sense.

Research in Leicester has found that as motorised traffic flow increases so does the proportion of vacant shops along that particular street.


A study in Bristol found that retailers tend to overestimate their customers’ use of cars and the distances they travel. They thought that just 12% of customers lived within half a mile, and 40% more than two miles away. In reality, 42% had travelled less than half a mile and 86% less than two miles.


Pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users provide as much if not more spending power than car users (TfL 2002; TfL 2009; Commission for Integrated Transport 2006; DfT, 2002).


A visiting cyclist spends an average of £25/day on locally provided food and services, compared to car-borne visitor’s £7.30. Car users bring what they’ll need with them, whereas cyclists can’t. Because of the exercise, cyclists feel hungrier when they stop and that they’ve earned the right to pamper themselves.


Space allocated to bicycle parking can produce much higher levels of retail spend than the same space devoted to car parking.

Many car-borne shoppers are "drive-through" shoppers, stopping to pick up one item on the way to their eventual destination, rather than people for whom shopping is their main purpose for visiting the area.

It is difficult to estimate the value of non-drive-in spend for main streets. However, it is always bigger than we think.

Retail vitality would be best served by traffic restraint, public transport improvements, and a range of measures to improve the walking and cycling environment.



Cycling for Business

The economic cost to the economy of absenteeism due to low physical activity is £5.5bn pa (1998).


Cycling is good for business, says Birmingham firm. Cycling cuts sick days, boosts productivity and could bring big savings for employers of all sizes.


A survey of people who cycle on the National Cycle Network found they take nearly half the sick days of the average UK worker.

Reduced costs for car parking spaces and more room for visitors or freight vehicles are key benefits of fewer cars travelling into a workplace.

Removing car journeys would reduce the impact of congestion on businesses which need to operate commercial vehicles.

41% of non-cycling commuters would cycle to work if they could - perception of traffic safety and end-point facilities are key.


The West Midlands was found to be home to some of the country’s busiest cycle lanes, with almost seven in 10 regular cyclists (69%) choosing to use their bike to travel to work


Those who usually commute to work by bicycle are most likely to live less than three miles from where they work and be in higher social grades (ABC1s). People cycle to work because they see it as cheap, quick and good for their health.


A US study, looking at 58 separate projects, found that $1 million invested in bike infrastructure produced 11.4 jobs, against 7.8 jobs for road-only projects.


Small scale projects in urban areas (e.g. traffic calming, cyclepaths etc) create most jobs per monetary investment. This is because more of them are built by hand, and more viable for local companies to compete for the work against big concerns - meaning that the monetary benefits stay local and, more likely, in the UK.



Cycling for Health

Obesity risk increases by 6% for each hour spent in a car per day, it falls by 4.8% for each km walked per day
APPCG @allpartycycling 26 June 2013


Due to obesity, health services could make £4 of savings for every £1 invested in cycling.


Estimates suggest an annual £600 return for each pupil making the shift from travelling by car to walking or cycling.

The health benefits alone of additional physical activity in the Cycling Demonstration towns were estimated to outweigh the costs of the entire project by 2.5:1


The order of the difference in fitness in favour of cyclists is equivalent to that enjoyed by being five years younger (cycling in general) or up to 10 years younger (for regular cyclists). A regular cyclist can expect to live 2 years longer than the average.


biking health benefits

Infrastructure Investment

Economic analysis of cycling interventions suggests that average benefit per additional cyclist is £590 per year, and that small increases in cycling numbers can justify investment in new cycling infrastructure.


A Cost Benefit Analysis of a cycling scheme for the DfT revealed a benefit to cost ratio of 22:1, over half of which is attributed to health benefits.


Almost all of the studies identified (UK and beyond) report economic benefits of walking and cycling interventions which are highly significant, and these average 13:1.

For UK interventions only, the average figure is higher at 19:1.
Value for Money : An Economic Assessment of Investment in Walking and Cycling Bristol 2010


Study finds the economy made a 35p profit for every mile travelled by bike instead of by car. 


Cycling makes extremely efficient and economical use of road-space. One lane of a typical road can accommodate 2,000 cars per hour – or 14,000 cycles.

Improved reliability for all road users arises through a reduction in motor traffic.

Savings can also come from reduced congestion and lower road infrastructure maintenance costs.


Installing cycling facilities doesn't have to be expensive as cycling is often overlooked at planning stage.  Infrastructure should be designed in at negligible cost, rather than more expensively retrofit.


67% of trips are under 5 miles (DfT, 2009)


More than half (56%) of us fear urban roads are unsafe to cycle on.


Around 3 in 10 car users say they would reduce their car use if there was better provision for cyclists, such as more cycle tracks, cycle lanes, and parking facilities.


On average, every £1 spent on well-designed soft measures could bring about £10 of benefit in reduced congestion alone, more in the most congested conditions, and with further potential gains from environmental improvements and other effects, provided that the tendency of induced traffic to erode such benefits is controlled.


Measures to restrict speed can reduce the average risk of accidents by more than 50%. The ratio between benefits and costs is 9:1

Separate cycle paths have a positive effect on safety for both motorised vehicles and cyclists and also benefit traffic flow. Here, too, the ratio is 9:1

A measure that gives cyclists right of way at traffic junctions by means of an advanced stopping line over the full width of the road also improves safety for cyclists and other traffic and has an even more positive ratio of 12:1


The Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT) developed by the WHO enables a monetised calculation of health benefit to assess the likely cost-effectiveness of current or past cycling investment.

Schemes so evaluated mostly produce Benefit to Cost Ratios of over 4:1, a level judged by the DfT as ‘very high’ value for money. HEAT is little known of and less used by Highway Authorities across England and it is likely that cycling interventions are under-valued given the limited budgets available to cycling and the high value for money that they often return.

Highway Authorities should use the HEAT routinely. Highways budgets should reflect this high value for money.


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Personal Wealth

Increased Mobility - 34% of households in the Wolverhampton Borough (34,370) have no access to a car, compared to an English average of 26% (2011 census).


The average cost of running a car each year is £1,758, representing a significant portion of the average UK income and even more for low income earners. One in five cyclists say that saving money was the reason they choose to cycle.


money out of car

smallinfoFurther Reading

BusinessCycle - A partnership between BITC, TfL, British Cycling, Cycle to Work Alliance and DfT which aims to get more people cycling to, from and for work.


CTC Briefing
Cycling and the Economy


Sustrans - Improving the bottom line
Why supporting cycling is good for business


Bicycling Means Business: The Economic Benefits of Bicycle Infrastructure
The Economic Benefits of Bicycle Infrastructure


TravelWest - Essential Evidence - Over 112 peer-reviewed evidence packs for various cycling topics


European Cyclists Federation - Bicycle Economics
Bikenomics : Why it Really Matters


20's Plenty
Businesses Profit from 20mph Limits


Sport & Recreation
Sport and recreation in the UK – facts and figures


The Economic Significance of Cycling


Copenhagen City of Cyclists
Bicycle Account 2012


Going up a gear – Britain’s cycling enthusiasts trade up to better quality models


Research shows soaring demand - and rents - in previously unfashionable areas as bike hire puts tube stations within reach

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